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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Clash of styles as England, Spain eye Women’s World Cup summit

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 FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Spain Training - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 19, 2023 General view during training REUTERS/Hannah Mckay Acquire Licensing Rights

Women’s football will crown a first-time champion on Sunday when the ninth Women’s World Cup concludes with England and Spain, both proud footballing nations, facing off in an intriguing final in Sydney.

The highly-successful tournament in Australia and New Zealand was destined to have a fresh winner from the quarter-finals when Japan joined the United States, Germany and Norway in making a premature exit.

For all the excitement that accompanied Australia’s run to the semi-finals and Japan’s brilliance in the early rounds, the consensus is that England and Spain are worthy first-time finalists.

“I think it’s going to be a brilliant game,” England captain Millie Bright enthused on Saturday.

“Two top teams coming head-to-head. And ultimately the game is about getting the ball in the back of the net and executing the game plan. So find a way to win.”

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The tournament has showcased the development of the women’s game but the finalists do present a contrast in styles — England pragmatic, ruthless, resilient and Spain displaying all the technical skill the country’s football is famed for.

Midfield maestro Aitana Bonmati and the fresh young talent of winger Salma Paralluelo have shone brightly for Spain, while Lauren James, before her two-match ban for a red card, and Lauren Hemp have been among England’s standouts.

The finalists have had their blips — Spain thrashed 4-0 by Japan in their last group game and England taken to penalties by Nigeria in the last 16 — but both have grown into the tournament and were convincing semi-final winners.

Expectations of a tight final in front of another sellout crowd of 75,000 at Stadium Australia might not be too wide of the mark if England’s 2-1 win in the European Championship quarter-final between the sides last year is any guide.

“This was a game we know were on top of, but it’s the result that counts,” said Spain coach Jorge Vilda.

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“England knows what they have in front of them tomorrow. Our team has evolved, our team has grown in this World Cup and mentally we’ve taken a step up.”

‘WE ARE READY’

England needed an extra time goal to beat Spain last year and continue their run to their first major title, a campaign on home soil conducted to the strains of ‘Football’s Coming Home’ during which the Lionesses captured the hearts of a nation.

Although they have had their share of injury setbacks this year, they have maintained the self-belief the Euros triumph and their calm Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman has imbued in them.

“We are ready,” Wiegman said on Saturday. “Technically, tactically. We have watched Spain, of course, analysed them with our analysis team, and I think we’re ready.”

For Spain, the defeat in Brighton marked the start of rumblings of discontent in the dressing room which ended in outright mutiny against Vilda earlier this year.

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The coach has kept his counsel on the dispute which robbed Spain of a handful of their top players for the tournament and if there is a split in the camp it was not in evidence when they celebrated their semi-final win over Sweden.

“What we want to do tomorrow is to be the best in the world,” he said in response to the last of many questions about the issue he faced on Saturday.

“And we’ll do this by winning the final.”

-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

CAF Women’s Champions League Qualifiers draw holds on Wednesday

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The 2024-2025 women’s interclub football season will officially kick off on Wednesday, 24 July, with the draw for the CAF Women’s Champions League qualifiers in 4 zones: UNAF, UNIFFAC, WAFU B and CECAFA.

The draw will be conducted at 10:00 GMTat the CAF Headquarters in Egypt and live-streamed on CAF TV and CAFOnline.com. 

Below are the teams entered by zone and the dates of the qualifying tournaments:

WAFU B (10 – 23 August): Ainonvi FC (Benin), Hasaacas Ladies (Ghana), Inter d’Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), AO Étincelles OU USFA (Burkina Faso), AS Garde Nationale (Niger), Edo Queens (Nigeria), ASKO de Kara (Togo).

UNAF (21 – 31 August): CF Akbou (Algeria), Tutankhamun (Egypt), AS Far (Morocco), ASF Sousse (Tunisia)

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CECAFA (17 August – 4 September): PVP Buyenzi (Burundi), FAD (Djibouti), CBE FC (Ethiopia), Kenya Police Bullets (Kenya), Kawempe Muslim (Uganda), Rayon Sports (Rwanda), Yei Joint Stars (South Sudan), Simba Queens (Tanzania), Warriors Queens (Zanzibar)

UNIFFAC (16 – 24 August): Lekié FF (Cameroon), TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Atlético de Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), CSM Diables Noirs (Congo)

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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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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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