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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Sex-scandal rocked Zambian team lands in Australia

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Bruce Mwape is being investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct as Zambia prepare for this month’s Women’s World Cup. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The Zambian women team has landed in Auckland New Zealand this Monday ahead of the Women’s World Cup that starts next week.

But the build-up to their maiden World Cup appearance has been overshadowed by the sex-scandal in their camp.

The head coach of the team, Bruce Mwape has been investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mwape who was appointed in May 2018 and helped Zambia qualify for the World Cup for the first time is currently under investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting the players.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) said in September 2022 that it had referred an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in the women’s game to Fifa, football’s governing body. Mwape and the under-17 coach Kaluba Kangwa are understood to have been among the FAZ employees who were investigated.

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“If he [Mwape] wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes,” one player who did not want to be named told UK newspaper, the Guardian. “It’s normal that the coach sleeps with the players in our team.”

One source who knows the players said they had received threats, not from Mwape himself. “They are being threatened with punitive action if they dare say anything about what happened,” the source said. “The federation is turning a blind eye because the women have had good results. It’s their way to show to the public and the authorities success and a good image. But behind the scenes, it’s very ugly.”

Mwape referred questions sent by the Guardian to the FAZ press office. A FAZ spokesperson, asked by the Guardian whether it had received any complaints about Mwape’s conduct, referred to their statement of September 2022 and would not add to their comments.

“Although we have no record of official complaints from anyone on the allegations, we consider these allegations very serious and have opened an inquiry into the matter,” said the FAZ’s general secretary, Adrian Kashala, in the statement. “We shall collaborate with the Zambia Police Service and other relevant stakeholders in dealing with this matter.”

According to the FAZ’s president, Andrew Kamanga, the investigation was referred to police and Fifa to ensure that it is not accused of “taking sides”.

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“We prefer that an independent body such as Fifa which has the capacity to do it will be able to handle the inquiries,” he said in October 2022. “Definitely we are going to take sanctions; we have enough rules and regulations within football which we can deal with.”

The Guardian has contacted the Zambian police for comment.

It is understood that Fifa is aware of the accusations made against Mwape and has been in touch with the FAZ to investigate. However, a Fifa spokesperson said it could not comment on ongoing investigations.

“Please note that as a general policy, the independent ethics committee does not comment on whether or not investigations are under way into alleged cases,” he said. “As usual, any information the ethics committee may like to share will be communicated at their discretion.”

Zambia, one of four African teams in the Women’s World Cup, are in Group C with Spain, Japan and Costa Rica and will play those games in New Zealand.

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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

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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‘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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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Flamingos hammer hosts Liberia 4-1, put one leg in World Cup finals

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FIFA World Cup bronze medallists Nigeria routed Liberia 4-1 in a fast-paced FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying round, first leg encounter in Monrovia on Sunday.

The Flamingos got off to a pretty quick start at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex at the Paynesville, but the Liberian girls, who shocked Senegal on the away-goal rule to reach this final round, warded off the early threats.

Nigeria got the ball into the net after 14 minutes, but Chadian referee Lare Lamngar ruled it off. Not to be deterred or discouraged, the Flamingos poured forward once again, and in the 19th minute, Shakirat Moshood opened the scoring from a sweet solo run.

Peace Effiong, who got a brace in the 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium last month, scored in the 29th minute to put a wedge of respect between the two teams.

Usual suspect Harmony Chidi, scorer of six of the 12 goals that sank the Central African Republic, and who equally netted four in the 7-1 dismissal of Burkina Faso in the last round, headed home her 11th goal of the qualifying series in the 36th minute to put daylight between both teams.

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On resumption, Nigeria continued to dominate, and substitute Blessing Ifitezue made it four with 16 minutes left.

Liberia scored a consolation goal with five minutes left, from the penalty spot, through Yassah Gwaikolo, after substitute Onyedikachi Ekezie was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area.

The Flamingos will return to Nigeria on Tuesday, and immediately commence preparations for the return leg encounter scheduled for Friday at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

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