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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Potential tormentor of Super Falcons defence, Sinclair is a vocal advocate of women’s game

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FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Canada press conference - Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia - July 20, 2023 Canada's Christine Sinclair during the press conference REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Nigeria’s Super Falcons face still challenge in a few hours’ time when they meet Canada in one of the Group B openers. Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair has always preferred doing her talking on the pitch, and as the most prolific goal-scorer in history, her game says plenty.

But in the battle for equity and the desire to leave a legacy with the days left of her illustrious career diminishing, the self-described “shy” Sinclair has become a fierce and vocal advocate for women’s soccer.

“(I hope) I helped leave the sport in a better place than I found it,” Sinclair said in Melbourne on Thursday on her legacy. “For so many years within the Canadian national team, our goal is to continue to move our sport forward.

“And along the way, hopefully inspire the next generation of young Canadians, girls, boys doesn’t matter.”

Mission accomplished for one of the most recognizable Canadian athletes, in any sport. The sheer number of No. 12 Sinclair jerseys – chosen because as a kid she was a fan of Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alamar – in the crowd of any Canadian women’s game is proof.

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Sinclair will kick off a remarkable sixth World Cup when reigning Olympic champions Canada play Nigeria on Friday in Melbourne. A goal will make the Portland Thorns captain, the all-time leader in international goals with 190 in 323 appearances, the first player in history to score in six World Cups.

“It’s hard to put words to Christine,” said midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who plans to retire after the World Cup. “She’s such a pivotal human being and player for this team. She’s been the face of Canada Soccer for so many years.

“But it’s been incredible to see her development as a captain and leader as well. She was more that quiet, lead-by-example player on the field and she still is. She’s respected worldwide for that. She’s just a class soccer player.

“She’s also taken on the role of being that vocal leader and continuing to drive the sport specifically in Canada. She has such a powerful voice, and I think the beauty of it is she doesn’t use it often. But when she does, it’s extremely impactful.”

SUPPORTING PAY PARITY

Sinclair – known affectionately as “Sinc” or “Sincy” to team mates – said her team’s pay equity battle with Canada Soccer was all but resolved, and praised Janine Beckie, who is sidelined with a torn ACL, for handling negotiations so the players could focus on the tournament.

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“It’s about to get done,” Sinclair said. “So honestly, we haven’t thought about it for one second these past couple of weeks, just focusing on playing.”

Canada’s talismanic leader was sympathetic to Nigeria’s own festering pay dispute.

“The world of women’s football is very small, and we all support each other,” Sinclair said. “I feel like each women’s team has to face their battles and obviously this past year we’ve been facing ours, and Nigeria now, with their federation, so we fully support them.

“Every single player in this tournament deserves the world and deserves equal treatment from their federations.”

The Women’s World Cup is getting $150 million in prize money from FIFA, a threefold increase over 2019 but well shy of the $440 million the men received last year in Qatar.

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“The women’s game, it’s got a long way to go to catch up to the men’s game,” Sinclair said. “It’s new compared to the men’s game. That being said, although our prize money continues to increase, we’re nowhere near where it should be. It needs to be the exact same as a men’s tournament . . . as players we expect that.”

Sinclair also plays a huge and public role in fundraising efforts for Multiple Sclerosis, the disease her mom Sandra battled for nearly four decades before dying in 2022. MS also kept her mom from travelling to global tournaments such as the Olympics, from which Sinclair has two bronze medals and a gold.

Canada’s victory in Tokyo 2020, Sinclair said, bears no weight on the World Cup, where her team hope to climb the World Cup podium for the first time.

“I mean, it’s got a nice ring to it, not gonna lie,” she laughed. “But it doesn’t change a thing. Around the world, we’re still overlooked, which is fine by us. We were overlooked heading into Tokyo and we showed the world what we’re capable of. I think all it has done is helped us feel that confidence to know that we can beat any team in the world.”

The seventh-ranked Canadians play the Republic of Ireland on July 26 and Australia on July 31.

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-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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