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Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Algeria ready for Under-17 champs

Under-17 African Championship logo
The games will be played at two venues in the Algerian capital Algiers
Four places at the Under-17 World Cup are up for grabs as the African Under-17 Championship kicks off on Thursday in Algeria.

The four semi-finalists will qualify for the Under-17 World Cup, to be hosted by Nigeria in October.

Nigeria and Ghana, both two-time African Under-17 champions, failed to qualify for the tournament in Algeria.

The opening game on Thursday sees 2005 winners Gambia play Guinea, runners-up in 1995.

Algeria then face 2003 champions Cameroon in the other Group A game.

Burkina Faso, who knocked out Tunisia on their way to qualifying for the competition, play Zimbabwe in Group B on Friday.

Zimbabwe had to draft in new members to their squad after their technical department decided to screen players for age cheating.

Only five players from the original squad were left after the exercise.

Niger and Malawi, both playing at the finals of the tournament for the first time, also meet on Friday.

Games will be played at two venues in suburbs of Algiers - Zeralda to the north, and Dar El Beida in the south-east.

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