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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Goalkeepers steal the show at Women’s World Cup

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Nigeria’s Chiamaka Nnadozie was the first goalkeeping hero at the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold surely won a legion of fans with her steely-eyed heroics in Saturday’s quarter-final penalty shootout victory at the Women’s World Cup.

Once the target of criticism in the women’s game, goalkeepers have been show-stoppers Down Under with umpteen theatrical game-salvaging saves.

Arnold – known affectionately as “Macca” – saved three spot-kicks against France on Saturday, despite pinging her own penalty kick off the post.

Calling it the “craziest game” she had ever played in, the 29-year-old West Ham keeper had to stop Kenza Dali’s spot-kick twice after the referee whistled Arnold had moved off her line.

“For Macca, missing that penalty and then staying in the game and being that player that wins the game for us, it’s unheard of,” raved Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson. “I mean, that mental strength of hers.”

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Of the 60 games played through three rounds, goalkeepers have been named player of the match in nine of them, including Arnold.

Netherlands coach Andries Jonker was full of praise for Daphne van Domselaar after the Aston Villa keeper’s string of saves against South Africa helped secure the Dutch a spot in the quarter-finals.

“Four years ago, there were goalkeepers that could not deal with the ball just under the bar and now we’ve got a whole generation of very athletic goalkeepers, who don’t let in that kind of ball,” Jonker said.

“Daphne is one of that new generation,” the coach added. “They’re athletic, they’re in good shape, they’ve got good positioning, so the developments in that area are incredible and the Netherlands are right along there.”

Nadine Angerer, who kept goal for Germany in their World Cup triumphs of 2003 and 2007, said there were clear signs of improved goal-keeping standards.

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“Overall, there’s way better goalkeeper performances,” Angerer said at FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG) press conference on Aug 4. “Especially I want to highlight . . . making the decision to come out and then a decision whether to punch it or to actually catch the ball.

“We saw an absolute increase in decision making to come out and then finally, the punching technique and the punching has improved.”

Forty-six percent of teams have kept a clean sheet in a game, up from 33% from four years ago. And save percentages with the hands have risen from 74% to 78% despite there being more attempts at goal from within the penalty area.

“The positioning of the goalkeepers, they’re way more connected to the defence line, the positioning is higher, and the timing is better,” Angerer added. “They’re coming out more ruthless. And yeah, the technique itself is better, so that’s one area we saw big improvement.”

England’s Mary Earps was named FIFA female goalkeeper of the year for 2022, and the Manchester United player has shown why at the World Cup. She conceded just one goal during a group stage in which the Lionesses outscored opponents 8-1, while leaping and diving in an array of dazzling saves.

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“I personally love to see when goalkeepers are doing well,” Earps said. “Obviously, we talk about the ‘goalkeeper union’ and that’s something that might be a bit of a cliche, but it’s really, really true.

“I very much hope (people are) praising goalkeepers, because I think the performances have been fantastic and deserve a lot of credit.”

Days before the World Cup kicked off, Earps voiced her anger in Nike excluding her shirt in the jerseys that were available for fan purchase.

Sixteen-year-old Emmy Somuaroo started a petition on change.org calling on Nike to reverse the decision. It has over 38,000 signatures so far.

-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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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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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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