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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Surprise winners, shock losers in 32-team World Cup group stage

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Morocco have etched their names in the history books by advancing to the knock-out stage of the FIFA Women's World Cup at the first attempt.

After Jamaica clinched a spot in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup at the expense of soccer giants Brazil on Wednesday, one reporter suggested it made the Reggae Girlz the “Cinderella team” of the tournament.

Jamaica coach Lorne Donaldson, who rolled around the Melbourne pitch in celebration of the scoreless draw that secured their passage to the knockout rounds for the first time, was not certain how suitable the analogy was.

“Cinderella wears a pretty dress, so I don’t know,” he laughed.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time. If we can wear a pretty dress, we’ll put it on.”

There were plenty of other fairytales in the first two weeks of the tournament with Morocco, South Africa, Norway and co-hosts Australia the big group-stage winners.

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The losers? Germany, Brazil, Canada, the other co-hosts New Zealand, and China.

Morocco were expected to make an early exit as the 72nd-ranked team, but bounced back from a 6-0 defeat in their opener to become the lowest ranked side ever to make the knockout round with their 1-0 win over Colombia in Perth.

They still needed South Korea to prevent a Germany win in Thursday’s other group match and had a few nervous moments while waiting for the final whistle in Brisbane.

“We were praying, waiting for the result to come out of the Germany and Korea game,” said midfielder Anissa Lahmari. “It was a draw and afterwards it was a complete explosion of joy.”

The stunning upsets sent twice German champions packing in their first exit from the group stage in nine editions of the World Cup.

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Jamaican joy on Wednesday also meant despair for Brazil, who exited from the group stage for the first time since 1995, following Canada’s premature exit at the hands of co-hosts Australia on Monday.

That left the tournament without two of the game’s greatest players with Brazil striker Marta and Canada’s talisman captain Christine Sinclair, who both bowed out of their sixth World Cups in the worst possible way.

SHOT IN THE ARM

Australia’s chances were on a razor’s edge before they crushed Canada 4-0 without needing injured forward Sam Kerr, their leading scorer. Their advancement was a huge shot in the arm for the tournament after the loss of New Zealand.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said in a post-match interview that he cried “tears of joy” after the match.

Their courageous win made Canada the first reigning Olympic champions to get knocked out in the group stage and the image of shell-shocked keeper Kailen Sheridan in tears before the final whistle captured Canada’s collective heartache.

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Revived Norway were a big group stage winner, brushing off a turbulent two weeks to squeeze into the knockout rounds on goal difference over New Zealand.

Winger Caroline Graham Hansen had apologised earlier in the tournament for an angry outburst in a TV interview after coach Hege Riise dropped her to the bench.

Norway’s advancement sealed New Zealand’s fate, despite the Football Ferns having edged the Norwegians 1-0 for their first win at a World Cup at the tournament’s opening match.

The game itself was a big winner in the island nation of five million people, with 42,958 fans squeezing into Auckland’s historic Eden Park for Portugal versus the U.S., the largest crowd for a soccer match in New Zealand.

Defending champions the United States did not lose a game in the group stage but scraping through to the knockout rounds in second place with a nervy 0-0 draw against debutants Portugal was hardly a “win” for a team used to dominating.

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South Africa are not used to dominating outside their own continent and the nation erupted in celebration after the Banyana Banyana knocked out Italy, quarter-finalists four years ago, to progress with their first ever World Cup win.

“You have lifted our spirits and made us immensely proud,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Bring the cup home!”

China’s Steel Roses, once titans of women’s soccer with silver medals from the 1996 Olympics and 1999 World Cup, were shock losers in the group stage, bowing out in a 6-1 thumping by England.

Shui Qingxia, who coached the team to the Asian title last year, vowed China would regain its status after clearly falling behind the likes of England.

“We can see there’s a huge gap between us and the European teams,” Shui said.

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“We are not going to see this gap and do nothing, but rather we will do things like transition and balance and physicality.”

-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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