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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Again, Cameroon Comes Into Contention As Nigeria’s Flamingos Will Battle Central African Republic In Douala –

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FIFA World Cup bronze-medallists Nigeria will begin their quest for a place in this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup next weekend, when they take on their counterparts from Central African Republic in a second round, first leg encounter in the Cameroonian city of Douala.

 

The Central Africans have for many years now made Douala home, as a result of lack of an approved stadium for international matches in Bangui or any other city in their country. It was in Douala that they hosted the Super Eagles in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in November 2021, which the Eagles won 2-0.

 

The match already scheduled for Sunday, 4th February will hold at the Stade de la Reunification de Douala, and commence at 3pm Cameroon time. Nigeria’s Flamingos, who won the bronze medals of the last edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup hosted by India, after a penalty shootout defeat of Germany, have appeared at every edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals bar one – the 2018 finals in Uruguay.

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Already, the Confederation of African Football has appointed Tunisian official Emna Ajbouni as referee, with her compatriots Khouloud Amri, Ameni Hammemi and Asma Chouchane as assistant 1, assistant 2 and fourth official respectively. Eugenie Mbainaye from Chad will serve as the commissioner.

 

For the return leg in Nigeria, Moroccan official Zakia El Grini will be referee, with her compatriots Ihsane Ennouajeli Nouajli, Karima Khadiri and Sabah Sadir in the roles of assistant 1, assistant 2 and fourth official respectively. Naa Odofoley Nortey from Ghana will be the commissioner.

 

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The second leg will take place at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, 10th February 2024.

 

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

Dominican Republic 2024: Flamingos thrash Burkinabe girls 6-0 to cruise into final round

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NFF 2ND Vice President, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye celebrating with the Flamingos after Saturday’s game.

Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday evening.

Goal-poacher Harmony Chidi, who netted six of Nigeria’s dozen goals in the 12-0 annihilation of Central African Republic in the first round and also got the team’s goal in the 1-1 draw away in Bamako last week Saturday, came up big again with a hat-trick in front of delighted spectators in Nigeria’s administrative capital.

She put the Nigeria U17 girls in front after 11 minutes, capitalizing on a defensive blunder by the duo of Faridatou Ouedraogo and Obaidatou Nkiema to dribble past goalkeeper Agueratou Baguian. Four minutes later, Shakirat Moshood’s angled shot was foiled by the upright, and in the 27th minute, Peace Effiong’s dashing run ended with a tame shot.

Effiong made amends in the 34th minute, riding a couple of rough tackles to flash past the overworked Baguian as spectators egged the Flamingos on. She should have made it 3-0 with four minutes left in the first period, but got too much purchase on the ball from four yards.

In the second half, visiting goalkeeper Baguian drew applause with an excellent double save from Harmony Chidi in the 55th minute, but the World Cup bronze medallists reserved their greater potency for the last quarter-hour. In the 74th minute, Taiwo Afolabi’s soaring volley from 20 yards rocked the crossbar, but Chidi was on hand to coolly nod it into the net.

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Substitute Ramota Kareem made it four in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, Chidi got her hat-trick with a dipping shot, and with one minute left on the clock, Effiong got her brace after a wonderful team move.

Victory earned Nigeria a 7-1 aggregate win, and a place in the final round against the winner of the Senegal/Liberia fixture. The first leg is scheduled for Saturday, 8th June.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Marta celebrates Brazil hosting 2027 Women’s World Cup

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FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Group F - Jamaica v Brazil - Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia - August 2, 2023 Brazil's Marta reacts REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

Brazil’s all-time leading scorer Marta celebrated her country’s selection to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup on Friday and called for the opening match to be played in Rio Grande do Sul, which has been devastated by recent flooding.

Brazil was chosen by the FIFA Congress to stage the tournament, beating a joint bid from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to become the first South American nation to host the event.

“I was very happy with the news and I’m sure that the 2027 Women’s World Cup will be a success, and the Brazilian people, as always, will be with open arms to welcome the world soccer community,” Marta said in a video on social media.

The 38-year-old midfielder, a six-times Women’s World Player of the Year, is retiring from international football this year.

“If it were possible, I would like the Brazilian national team’s first match to be in Rio Grande Sul. The state of Rio Grande do Sul deserve it,” Marta added.

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The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) suspended two rounds of the Brazilian Championship due to the floods that have killed more than 150 people, according to state government figures.

-Reuters

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Brazil becomes first South American country to host Women’s World Cup after clinching 2027 event

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President of the Brazilian Football Confederation Ednaldo Rodrigues speaks after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup at the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Brazil was declared host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup after winning a vote at the annual FIFA Congress on Friday, beating the joint bid of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany to become the first South American country picked to stage the tournament.

Brazil won with 119 votes versus 78 for the joint European entry, boosted by a technical evaluation from world governing body FIFA that gave a high score for its commercial plan and stadiums purpose-built for the 2014 Men’s World Cup.

“We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women’s soccer and for women,” said Ednaldo Rodrigues, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

“You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women.”

The Congress in Bangkok heard a call by FIFA for all members to implement mandatory sanctions to tackle racist abuse.

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There was also a Palestinian proposal to suspend the Israel Football Association (IFA), accusing it of multiple violations of FIFA statutes, including over the war in Gaza and inclusion in Israel’s leagues of teams located in Palestinian territory.

Since an Oct. 7 cross-border raid by Hamas-led gunmen that Israel says killed more than 1,200 people, the offensive in Gaza has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials.

‘RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY’

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said an urgent legal assessment of the Palestinian allegations would be undertaken and the FIFA Council would convene an extraordinary Congress in late July to address the issue.

He said he was extremely shocked by both the Oct. 7 attack and the devastation in Gaza, adding: “I pray for all those people who suffer unimaginably”.

The president of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, had accused the IFA of racism and discrimination, in a proposal that alleged complicity in its failure to condemn the operations in Gaza. The IFA rejected that.

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“FIFA cannot afford to remain indifferent to these violations or the ongoing genocide in Palestine,” Rajoub told the Congress. “I ask you to stand on the right side of history… If not now, when?”

Israeli counterpart Shino Moshe Zuares said the proposal had nothing to do with football and the IFA had broken no rules.

“Once again, we are facing a cynical political and hostile attempt by the PFA to harm Israel,” he said.

“I am holding myself back … in the hope things can be better for the game for those who play in Israel, the Palestinian authority, or those who play all over the world.”

TRANSFORMATIVE BID

The vote on the Women’s World Cup had been whittled down to two candidates after the United States and Mexico withdrew to pursue the 2031 tournament instead.

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Brazil had scored 4.0 out of 5 compared to 3.7 for Belgium-Netherlands-Germany in the FIFA evaluation, which had highlighted the European bid’s compactness, solid commercial viability and short distances between venues, but noted smaller capacities of its 13 stadiums.

Brazil soccer chief Rodrigues said the win was the result of conviction, not lobbying.

“We were not campaigning, asking for votes. We were working to give FIFA what it needed,” he said.

The bid’s operational manager Valesca Araujo said the aim was to boost women’s soccer in South America, which was underdeveloped and had huge potential.

“The concept we presented went beyond a sports tournament. We worked for a transformation,” she said.

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“Now we have to celebrate. It’s a great achievement for South America.”

FIFA vowed to be tough on racism with a call for strict measures to be implemented by all member over instances of abuse, including forfeiting of matches, and introducing racism as an offence in players’ disciplinary codes.

It advocates suspending or abandoning games plus the introduction of a global standard gesture for players to inform referees of racist abuse.

“If it is a problem of society and society can’t deal with it, let’s deal with it in football once and for all,” Infantino said.

Infantino also weighed in on what he called a “futile debate” over the volume of matches played globally, arguing FIFA organised about 1% of club games and just 1% to 2% of national team matches.

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He reminded delegates that most FIFA members “would have no football without the resources” FIFA provides.

“I hope these figures will show that we should probably stop this futile debate, it’s really pointless, and focus on what we need to do,” he said.

-Reuters

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