Tanzania National U20 Men’s Team, Ngorongoro Heroes has been handed a difficult draw for the 2019 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations after being drawn with DR Congo in the first round.
Ngorongoro Heroes will be making a return to the qualifiers for the first time since 2014 following a decision by the Tanzania Football Federation not to register for the competition in 2016.
Tanzania will host the first leg on the weekend of 30th- 31st March in Dar es Salaam with the return leg coming on either 21st or 22nd April in Kinshasa.
The aggregate winner will face Mali in the second round slated for May. In spite of having never been crowned chamions at the U-20 level, Mali are regarded as an African giant in junior football. Their U-17 players who played and won the 2017 Under-17 Africa Cp of Nations in Gabon are likely to feature in the U-20 team.
The final qualifying round will be staged in July with the seven winners earning automatic slots to the final tournament slated for next year in Niger.
Zambia are the defending champion of the biennial tournament where the top four teams represent Africa at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The immediate ex-Under-17 Tanzania Nationalteam, Serengeti Boys will form the nexus of the under-20 set-up despite the majority of them are yet to make a breakthrough in their clubs.
The U-17 team qualified for the AFCON U-17 tournament for the first time but suffered a group stage elimination and this would be their second chance to impress. They are booked to play an international friendly with their Kenyan counterparts’ in Dar es Salaam early next month.
The likes of goalkeeper Ramadhan Kabwili who is getting a bit of action with Tanzanian League Champions, Young Afrcicans and the impressive defensive midfielder, Shaban Ada who has consistently featured for newly promoted Lipuli are expected to be key players as Ngorongo Heroes attempt to qualify for the junior continental showpiece for the first time.
In other first-round fixtures, Uganda will take on South Sudan, Kenya have been paired with Rwanda, Mauritania will take on Morocco, Guinea Bissau will face Sierra Leone, Algeria will play against Tunisia, Liberia will face Benin, Gabon will take on Togo, while Ethiopia have been drawn against Burundi.
Twelve teams, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa and Zambia were given a bye into the second round. They were exempted on the virtue of having qualified for the final tournaments of the last two editions.