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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Super Falcons are super-charged to overcome Australia

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A capacity crowd is anticipated at the Lanng Park stadium in Brisbane/Meaajjin on Thursday when  Nigeria’s Super Falcons  and Australia’s Matildas meet in their second match of the on-going Women’s World Cup.

Both are expected to literally set alight the Lang Park arena on Thursday night (daytime in Nigeria) in what is one of the most-anticipated clashes of the group stage at this ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.

With the maximum three points from their opening match against Republic of Ireland in Sydney on 20 July, the Matildas know they have a fight on their hands against nine-time African champions, Super Falcons, who refused to bow to Olympic champions Canada in Melbourne the following day.

The Super Falcons know only a win will be good enough to stand them in good stead for a place in the Round of 16, as only the two top-placed teams in each of the eight groups will make progress in a tournament that has welcomed 32 teams for the first time ever.

“Of course, it is the World Cup. You have to accept the fact that you are going to play the best teams in the world and you have to be alive to that responsibility and face it with your full chest,” team captain Onome Ebi told thenff.com after the tournament draw that was conducted in Auckland, New Zealand in October 2022.

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On Tuesday, Ebi reiterated the position of the Super Falcons: “We will go in there and play to win. There are no two ways about it. Only three points will be good enough for us.”

Ebi says their five-match unbeaten streak is one of the callipers that will keep the girls going strong on a turf much more familiar to their opponents and in front of dozens of thousands of a partisan crowd at the Lang Park.

Before the draw with Canada, the Super Falcons had pipped Costa Rica 1-0, edged Haiti 2-1, trounced New Zealand 3-0 and slayed Lions Women’s Football Club 8-1 before the World Cup.

Nigeria is one of only seven countries (the others being USA, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Japan and Norway) to have featured in every single edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the competition was launched in 1991. Australia missed the inaugural edition in China, but have been at every other final tournament since then.

Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie has returned to training after being excused for one day following the MVP-winning performance against Canada in Melbourne, and consistency is expected in the selection of the rearguard, with Michelle Alozie and Ashley Plumptre on the wings, and veteran Osinachi Ohale and youthful Oluwatosin Demehin at central.

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The co-hosts will have to do without their talismanic captain Sam Kerr, who has been the face on most advertisements pertaining to the tournament here.

 

Antithetically, Nigeria has gained with the return of the fabulous Rasheedat Ajibade – whose goal against Cameroon in the Women Africa Cup of Nations’ quarter-finals secured Nigeria’s passage to these finals – and midfield battering ram Halimatu Ayinde from suspension.

 

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Asisat Oshoala, who suffered a knock against the Canadians, could be excused, with Nigeria sufficiently blessed in Desire Oparanozie, Jennifer Echegini, Gift Monday and Uchenna Kanu.

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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