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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Five-star Spain cruise into World Cup knockouts with thumping win over Zambia

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FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Group C - Spain v Zambia - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand - July 26, 2023 Zambia's Barbra Banda in action with Spain's Alexia Putellas REUTERS/David Rowland

Spain underlined their credentials as pre-tournament favourites when they became one of the first teams to seal qualification for the Women’s World Cup knockouts with a 5-0 win over Zambia in their second Group C encounter on Wednesday.

Teresa Abelleira opened the scoring while Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo scored twice to give Spain their second victory, which also assured Japan of last-16 qualification after they beat Costa Rica 2-0 earlier on Wednesday.

 

Both Spain and Japan have six points and will play each other on Monday for top spot in the group while Zambia and Costa Rica – both eliminated – will play for third.

Spain were given a boost ahead of the game when coach Jorge Vilda named midfielder Alexia Putellas in the starting lineup and the twice Ballon d’Or winner, having fully recovered from injury, was actively involved in buildup play from the start.

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Abelleira settled any opening nerves with the fastest goal of the tournament when she picked up the ball after an intricate passing move in the ninth minute and fired a shot from long range that rocketed into the top corner.

Four minutes later, Hermoso marked her 100th appearance for Spain with an easy header at the far post after Zambia failed to defend a cross from Putellas.

Vilda substituted Putellas, Ona Batlle and Salma Paralluelo at halftime but Spain continued to dominate.

Zambia goalkeeper Eunice Sakala, in the team after Catherine Musonda was sent off in their group opener, made several saves but she was left stranded when Redondo was put through on goal as the forward rounded the 21-year-old keeper to make it 3-0.

VAR CONFUSION

Hermoso then grabbed her second — and 50th for Spain — when she pounced on a rebound off the post to fire home, a goal awarded after a VAR review and following some confusion over the referee’s initial announcement that it was ruled out for offside.

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“No goal! No offside,” referee Jeong Oh-Hyeon said before correcting herself as a bewildered Spain looked on before realising it had been awarded.

Redondo then beat the offside trap late in the game to score Spain’s fifth, also awarded after a VAR review when the assistant referee flagged for offside.

Zambia had their chances on the counter-attack but failed to test Misa Rodriguez in Spain’s goal with a number of wayward shots.

“Spain are very experienced… we are just developing, we still need more experience,” Zambia skipper Barbra Banda said.

“When you create chances, definitely you have to score. Unfortunately we didn’t find any goal.”

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Sakala had the final say, however, when she made a string of saves to deny both Hermoso and Redondo from claiming hat-tricks.

“Today’s game, we actually played much better than we did the first game,” Zambia coach Bruce Mwape said.

“Spain has got a lot of experience and they’ve played well starting from the first whistle up to the final (whistle).

“I’m sure we have learned one or two things from this team. We will try and do our best in the last game (against Costa Rica).”

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Colombia 2024: Danjuma invites 32 as countdown begins to Final Tournament

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Flying Eagles, Falconets To Resume Camp On Thursday -

With just eight weeks to their first match of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024, Head Coach Chris Musa Danjuma has called up four goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders and 12 strikers to a training camp in the Federal Capital, Abuja in the first phase of preparation for the global tournament.

Team captain Oluchi Ohaegbulem is top of the list, with first-choice goalkeeper Faith Omilana, defenders Shukurat Oladipo and Comfort Folorunsho, midfielders Chinyere Kalu, Adoo Yina and Rofiat Imuran, and forwards Janet Akekoromowei, Flourish Sabastine and Aminat Bello also called.

Nigeria, a fixture at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals since the tournament began as an U19 event in Canada 22 years ago, will contend with three-time winners Germany, Asian powerhouse Korea Republic and South American representatives Venezuela in group D of the competition scheduled for three Colombian cities, 31st August – 22nd September.

All the invited are expected at Serob Legacy Hotel, Wuye, Abuja on Sunday, 7th July.

ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:

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Goalkeepers: Anderline Mgbechi (Delta Queens); Rachael Unachukwu (Nasarawa Amazons); Faith Omilana (Naija Ratels); Shukura Bakare (Nasarawa Amazons)

Defenders: Oluchi Ohaegbulem (Nasarawa Amazons); Jumoke Alani (Nasarawa Amazons); Shukurat Oladipo (FC Robo Queens); Oluwabunmi Oladeji (Naija Ratels); Folashade Adegbemile (Delta Queens); Chidera Okenwa (Delta Queens); Comfort Folorunsho (Edo Queens); Taiwo Lawal

Midfielders: Adoo Yina (Nasarawa Amazons); Olushola Shobowale (Nasarawa Amazons); Aminat Folorunsho (Rivers Angels); Chioma Olise (Edo Queens); Chinyere Kalu (Nasarawa Amazons); Joy Igbokwe (Naija Ratels); Rofiat Imuran (Stade de Reims, France); Zikora Agama (Naija Ratels)

Forwards: Delight Nwosu (Dannaz Ladies); Adaobi Okah (Remo Stars Ladies); Chiamaka Okwuchukwu (Rivers Angels); Chinaza Agoh (Delta Queens); Mary Nkpa (Heartland Queens); Chiamaka Osigwe (Edo Queens); Janet Akekoromowei (Asisat Academy); Mary Offor (Adamawa Queens); Flourish Sabastine (Stade de Reims, France); Sharon Ulumma (Heartland Queens); Aminat Bello (Otero College, USA); Reilly Adebowale (Bohemian FC, Republic of Ireland)   

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Nigeria’s Flamingos drawn against debuting hosts in FIFA U-17 World Cup

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The Flamingos, Nigeria’s U-17 women’s football team have been drawn against hosts, Dominican Republic for the finals of the Women’s U-17 World Cup holding from 16 October to 3 November in two host cities of Santo Domingo  and Santiago de los Caballeros.

 Both Nigeria and Dominican Republic are drawn in Group A along with Ecuador and New Zealand.  In Group B are Spain, USA, Korea Republic and Colombia.

Group C has  Korea DPR, Mexico, Kenya and England while those competing in Group D are  Japan , Poland, Brazil and Zambia.

The hosts will make their debut in the competition on 16 October against Ecuador in Santiago de los Caballeros, with New Zealand and Nigeria completing Group A.

Herrera, the first Dominican woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, had a special message for her compatriots taking part in the World Cup. She said: “I am the living example that you can achieve your dreams. So, keep up the good work. I am looking forward to seeing those amazing games.”

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Reigning champions Spain, meanwhile, will kick off their campaign in Group B, in which they will face USA, Korea Republic and Colombia, runners-up last time around.

“The advice to all the players that will participate here is to be confident and go live your dream. ¡Y Buena suerte!” said Flores, who took part in this tournament two years ago in India.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Dominican Republic 2024:Flamingos land in the Dominican Republic!

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Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos, have secured their ticket to the 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals to be staged in the Dominican Republic later this year, after a 2-0 defeat of their Liberian counterparts at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday.

Victory took the aggregate tally to 6-1 in favour of Nigeria, with extraordinary poacher Harmony Chidi setting a record of 13 goals in a qualifying series that will be difficult to equal in years to come. She had 11 goals before kick-off, but netted the two goals of the evening to take Nigeria’s total of the series to a whopping 25. Central African Republic fell by a dozen goals while Burkina Faso fell 1-7 on aggregate.

Her first came after only four minutes when she sped past the Liberian defence to toe-poke the ball beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Makula Konneh from a cross by Shakirat Moshood.

A goal feast was expected, but this did not happen, as Peace Effiong had a close call in the 17th and Moshood rocked the crossbar a minute after from 20 yards. Moshood also missed from close range with 10 minutes left of the first half.

In the 56th minute, Moshood blasted beyond the goalpost when faced with Konneh, but Harmony Chidi made sure of her brace seven minutes later when she lashed the ball beyond Konneh’s reach as Nigeria seized the ball from a defensive slip-up by the visitors.

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The 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals will be staged in the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, 16th October – 3rd November.

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