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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

England-Spain final to round off record-breaking Women’s World Cup

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FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - England Training - Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, Australia - August 19, 2023 England's Alessia Russo with teammates during training REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

England and Spain go head-to-head in the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, capping off a tournament that has broken attendance and TV records and raised hopes of a surge in interest for the women’s game.

Co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the ninth edition of the global showpiece event was the first to be held in the southern hemisphere and has already broken attendance records.

While local interest ebbed when Australia exited in the semi-finals, some 2 million fans will have passed through the gates in nine host cities by the time Sunday’s final kicks off at Stadium Australia in Sydney at 8 p.m. (1000 GMT).

 FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Spain Training – Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia – August 19, 2023 Spain players during training REUTERS/Hannah Mckay Acquire Licensing Rights

Australia’s semi-final loss to England on Wednesday drew an average of 7.13 million viewers on the channels of local broadcaster Seven Network, the highest viewership ever recorded by research firm OzTAM, which launched in 2001.

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Matildas matches sold out months in advance, and organisers expect the average attendance to overtake 30,000 once all 64 matches are completed.

The last Women’s World Cup in France four years ago attracted more than 1.1. million fans to 52 matches with an average crowd of 21,756.

Demand was weaker in New Zealand, whose team went out in the group stages. FIFA gave away thousands of tickets and some games attracted as few as 7,000 fans, although White Ferns matches broke records for a soccer crowd in the country.

FUNDING GAP

Australia’s players, who lost 2-0 in a third-place playoff match to Sweden on Saturday, will earn $165,000 each in prize money for this tournament, more than 300 times the A$750 ($480) they received for a quarter-final appearance in 2015.

But at the grassroots level, the sport needs more resources, Matildas striker Sam Kerr said after the loss to England on Wednesday.

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“We need funding in our development, we need funding in our grassroots,” she said.

“We need funding, you know, we need funding everywhere.”

The Matildas’ standout World Cup campaign has led to calls for more support to women’s soccer in Australia, where it lags more popular football codes like rugby league and Australian rules.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese responded on Saturday by promising A$200 million for women’s sport in the wake of the Matildas’ run to the semi-finals.

Albanese said the money would be used to improve sports facilities for women and girls, with soccer tipped to receive “significant resourcing”.

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The government also wants to ensure women’s sporting events are available on free-to-air television, after criticism that most World Cup games not involving Australia were behind a paywall.

Women’s soccer has also confronted a variety of challenges involving finalists England and Spain, who will both be chasing a first world title in Sydney on Sunday.

Women were banned from official facilities in England, the home of the game, until 1970, and have long lagged the men’s team in interest and funding, although that began to change after the Lionesses won the European championship last year.

The Spanish team, meanwhile, has been rocked by a locker room dispute with coach Jorge Vilda and the Spanish football federation, with some of their best players absent from the tournament as a result.

-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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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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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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