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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Super Falcons’ first opponents and Olympic champions, Canada have first World Cup medal in sights

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Feb 22, 2023; Frisco, Texas, USA; Canada forward Adriana Leon (19) dribbles the ball against Japan defender Risa Shimizu (2) during the second half at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Canada’s women’s soccer team finally found golden glory after years of tantalising near misses when they beat Sweden in a nerve-jangling shootout to triumph at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

However, much has changed since they celebrated on the Yokohama pitch and Bev Priestman’s side head to the Women’s World Cup with a number 7 ranking, still mired in an equity pay battle with the federation and missing key players to injury.

“The mindset going into this tournament is ambitious, striving for more and looking to climb the steepest mountain,” Portland Thorns forward Adriana Leon told Canada Soccer.

Canada won back-to-back Olympic bronze medals before their Tokyo joy but have not had the same success at the World Cup despite playing in every one since the inaugural edition in 1991. They lost the bronze game in 2003 in their best finish.

The Canadians were undefeated in 14 of 17 games in 2022, but have lost four of their last five with three defeats at the SheBelieves Cup in February when they played under protest and called out what they called the “disgusting” discrepancy between the support for Canada’s men’s versus women’s programmes.

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Long-time captain Christine Sinclair said the women want the pay dispute with their federation settled before they leave for Australia.

“(The) time’s coming where we want it done so as players we’re not having to deal with it while we’re trying to prepare,” the 40-year-old told The Canadian Press.

Canada are in Group B with hosts Australia, Nigeria and Ireland.

POSSIBLE RECORD

Canada’s talisman Sinclair, their all-time top scorer with 190 goals and one of the country’s most recognisable athletes, will become the first person to score at six World Cups if she finds the net Down Under.

Sheridan is expected to get the nod in goal.

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“Getting that confidence from Bev has been massive,” the San Diego Waves keeper told Canada Soccer. “Stepping into (retired keeper Stephanie Labbe’s) shoes is never going to be easy and anybody who’s been before me has been a world-class goalkeeper.

“Bev has given me a lot of confidence and been challenging me in areas I didn’t think I could challenge myself in.”

Janine Beckie’s season-ending knee injury in March was a blow but Canada have had good news including Chelsea defender Kadeisha Buchanan’s return from injury late in the WSL season.

“The mindset of the team going into the tournament is unbreakable,” Sheridan said.

Buchanan and Vanessa Giles are expected to anchor Canada’s back line. Jessie Fleming, fresh off an FA Cup triumph with Chelsea, Sophie Schmidt, who plans to retire post-World Cup, and Julia Grosso should command the midfield.

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“Knowing that the country is behind us is our 12th man, it means everything to us to have the support of Canada,” Leon said.

-Reuters

 

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

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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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

‘It shall be showers of goals’, vows Flamingos ahead of Liberia clash

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Head Coach Bankole Olowookere is confident that the Nigeria U17 girls, Flamingos, will not take their feet off the pedal when they take on their Liberian counterparts in a FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying match in Abuja on Friday.

“We are battle-ready for the match on Friday. The girls are raring to go because they want to go to the World Cup. They are already dreaming of flying to the Dominican Republic.

“There is so much excitement in camp, and they are self-assured. However, I have warned them that it is never over until it is over. There should be no display of over-confidence on the pitch. We must approach the match like the first leg was a drawn game.”

Nigeria won the first leg 4-1 in Monrovia on Sunday, with 11-goal qualifying series revelation Harmony Chidi, Shakirat Moshood, Peace Effiong and substitute Blessing Ifitezue banging in the goals for the Flamingos. The hosts got their consolation goal off a penalty awarded with five minutes left of the encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

The Flamingos will take part in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup for the seventh time once they cross Friday’s hurdle.

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They featured at the inaugural edition in New Zealand in 2008, and subsequently at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, Azerbaijan 2012, Costa Rica 2014, Jordan 2016 and India 2022, where they won the bronze medals.  

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