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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Super Falcons opening opponents, Canada enlist veteran Sinclair in 23-player World Cup squad

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 Women's World Cup - Group E - Canada v Cameroon - Stade de La Mosson, Montpellier, France - June 10, 2019 Canada's Christine Sinclair in action REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/File Photo

Christine Sinclair will travel to her sixth Women’s World Cup as she leads a 23-player Canadian squad named on Sunday that is hungry to build on their breakthrough Olympic gold.

Three-times Canadian Player of the Year Kadeisha Buchanan and her Chelsea team mate Jessie Fleming, who was named Canada’s top player in 2021 and 2022, are among the veterans named along with midfielder Sophie Schmidt in her fifth World Cup.

The tournament kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s a great mix of veterans, experienced and new players who can all bring something different this summer,” coach Bev Priestman said in a statement.

The 40-year-old Sinclair, who holds the international goal-scoring record (190), is already a Canadian soccer great with 323 international appearances. She hopes to become the first player to score in six different World Cups.

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“She’s humble on the top and then below is this competitive high performer,” Priestman told reporters.

“I’m 37 and I’m thinking, ‘She’s three years older than me and she’s putting this out.’ And we did fitness testing, she’s come out brilliantly in that area. I’m in awe as many Canadians are as to what Christine is doing.”

Sinclair will be backed up by six newcomers including 18-year-old Olivia Smith, who has made just two appearances for the senior team.

“(Smith is) young but she’s got some great experience in our youth system,” said Priestman. “I think she’s come in and to be honest she’s been absolutely outstanding. I can tell the players are blown away with her impact coming in.”

The average age of the squad is 27, Canadian Soccer said.

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Canada are ranked seventh in the world and left Tokyo with gold medals around their necks two years ago but their run up to the tournament has been far from smooth with key players, including forward Janine Beckie, sidelined due to injury.

Sweden eliminated Canada in the last 16 in France four years ago.

One notable omission from the list was midfielder Desiree Scott, a veteran of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 World Cups, who acknowledged on Sunday that her injury rehabilitation was not at the place it needed to be for her to play her best.

“I’m naturally devastated for the players who have missed out, especially due to injuries, but I know every player will be with us on our journey and have been pivotal in getting us to this point,” said Priestman.

The players have also been locked in a pay dispute with their federation.

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Priestman said the dispute had not created distractions in her camp and expected the negotiations would be wrapped up by the first game of the World Cup.

“I know they’re in their final stages of getting things across the line,” she added. “There’s been every effort on both parties.”

Canada kick off their World Cup against Nigeria on July 21 in Group B.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Kailen Sheridan, Sabrina D’Angelo, Lysianne Proulx

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Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Vanessa Gilles, Shelina Zadorsky, Allysha Chapman, Ashley Lawrence, Jayde Riviere, Gabrielle Carle

Midfielders: Quinn, Simi Awujo, Jessie Fleming, Julia Gross, Sophie Schmidt

Forwards: Jordyn Huitema, Cloe Lacasse, Adriana Leon, Christine Sinclair, Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose, Evelyne Viens, Olivia Smith

 

-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

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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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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