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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Women’s World Cup: Philippines stun co-hosts New Zealand with Wellington win

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FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Group A - New Zealand v Philippines - Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand - July 25, 2023 Philippines' Sarina Bolden celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Forward Sarina Bolden headed the winner as the Philippines spoiled co-hosts New Zealand’s party with a stunning 1-0 victory in their Women’s World Cup Group A clash on Tuesday.

The Philippines lost 2-0 to Switzerland in their opening match and looked to be an easy mark for the Football Ferns, who were coming off their first-ever World Cup win over former champions Norway and looking to book a spot in the last 16.

Instead, the Philippines secured their own first World Cup win to keep alive their hopes of progressing in their debut tournament.

“It means everything to us,” said Philippines goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel. “I think we really put our head down and we knew what was coming at us tonight.”

New Zealand did not lack in effort but had seemingly lost the magic touch of their historic opener and missed a series of goalscoring opportunities.

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Striker Bolden made them pay for their profligacy in the 24th minute when she got up well to fire a header directly at New Zealand keeper Victoria Esson, who fumbled it into the net to give the Philippines their first-ever World Cup goal.

Roared on by the 32,357 crowd at Wellington Regional Stadium, the Ferns dominated possession as they poured forward looking for an equaliser.

Defender Katie Bowen sent a shot wide to the left in the 38th minute and co-captain Ria Percival’s shot rolled straight at McDaniel in first-half stoppage time.

In the 58th minute, defender C.J. Bott looped a cross into the box but Hannah Wilkinson, the hero of New Zealand’s opening win on Thursday, sent her header over the bar.

Ten minutes later, Wilkinson did well to drag the ball back from the byline and crossed for forward Jacqui Hand to head it into the net, only for the referee to call it back for offside.

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In a frenetic finish, Philippines striker Carleigh Frilles also got the ball into the net from an offside position and New Zealand’s Grace Jale was foiled from close range by a fine McDaniel save.

“Our goal was to inspire our nation and it was not the result that we wanted but the fight and the passion was definitely there tonight,” said New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova.

“It is heartbreaking but this is not over yet… we still have time to reset and refocus.”

The Philippines close out their Group A against 1995 winners Norway on Sunday, while New Zealand face Switzerland.

-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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