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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Breaking! New Zealand shooter kills two ahead of Women’s Soccer World Cup

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Armed police stand guard near a construction site following a shooting in the central business district, in Auckland, New Zealand July 20, 2023. REUTERS/David Rowland

At least two people and an armed attacker were killed and five others wounded in a shooting in New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland on Thursday, hours ahead of the opening match of the Women’s soccer World Cup in the city.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the soccer tournament would proceed as planned, adding the shooting appeared to be the actions of an individual and that police were not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident.

“There was no identified political or ideological motivation for the shooting and therefore no national security risk,” Hipkins said during a televised media briefing.

There would be no change to New Zealand’s security threat level although there would be an increased police presence in the city, he said.

Auckland has welcomed thousands of international players and tourists for the ninth Women’s World Cup which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

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“Obviously we would prefer it not to have started in this way,” Hipkins told journalists later in the day.

“It will be acknowledged what happened today at the opening ceremony. And I will be going, it is safe to go and we continue to encourage the whole community to get behind this,” he said.

The gunman has not been formally identified but is believed to be a 24-year-old male who was employed at the construction site where the shooting occurred, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said at a news conference.

He was armed with a pump-action shot gun and moved through a building site shooting. After reaching the upper levels he contained himself within an elevator shaft and fired more shots before being found dead a short time later.

An officer was injured in the shooting, as well as four members of the public.

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The gunman was the subject of a sentence of home detention but had an exemption to work at the site.

“The individual is known for primarily family violence history. There is nothing to suggest that he has presented a higher-level risk than was indicated by that history,” Coster said.

Soccer teams from New Zealand, Norway, Italy, the U.S., Vietnam and Portugal were known to be in the city when the shooting occurred.

“FIFA has been informed that this was an isolated incident that was not related to football operations and the opening match tonight at Eden Park will proceed as planned,” FIFA said in a statement to Reuters.

“The participating teams in close proximity to this incident are being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place.”

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In the two opening World Cup matches on Thursday, Norway plays New Zealand in Auckland while Australia faces Ireland in Sydney.

SECURITY STEPPED UP

The shooting took place near the Norwegian team hotel in downtown Auckland, and several players took to social media to report they were safe.

“All seems calm, and we are preparing as normal for the match tonight,” Norway captain Maren Mjelde told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang during the police operation.

Italy and the U.S. team’s training was delayed as players could not get out of their hotel.

Douglas Emhoff, the husband of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris who is leading the presidential delegation to New Zealand for the opening ceremony of the World Cup, is safe, the U.S. embassy said.

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A U.S. Soccer spokesman said that the U.S. players were just getting up for breakfast inside the hotel when the incident occurred.

“Our security sort of immediately liaised with the local authorities and Department of State. We determined immediately that everybody was safe and accounted for and from then on we just had to wait it out,” Aaron Heifetz told reporters.

U.S. forward Lynn Williams said the incident was something she and her compatriots had dealt with “far too many times” in the United States, where gun violence is common.

“There was definitely a sense of, ‘Let’s come together.’ We still have a job to do. But also recognising that there was lives lost and that is very real and very devastating,” said Williams.

Several streets in Auckland were cordoned off, all ferry services into the city were cancelled, and buses were asked to detour some areas of the city.

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Maurane Mifort-Paon, a 18-year-old tourist from France, said: “At first I was kind of worried but when I saw how the police were everywhere, it was very reassuring.”

A FIFA Fan Festival event just a few blocks from the shooting was delayed.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said the shooting was not in any way related to the World Cup.

Gun violence is rare in New Zealand, which tightened its gun laws after a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch in 2019 in the country’s worst peace-time mass shooting.

The government has banned all military style semi-automatics and other deadly guns.

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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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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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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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