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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Morocco coach Pedros proud of team as he reveals Olympic ambition

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FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Round of 16 - France v Morocco - Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, Australia - August 8, 2023 Morocco coach Reynald Pedros shakes hands with Nesryne El Chad after the match as Morocco are knocked out of the World Cup REUTERS/Carl Recine

Morocco’s “remarkable adventure” at the Women’s World Cup is at an end, but coach Reynald Pedros believes this is just the beginning for a talented group of players he wants to help qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.

Morocco lost 4-0 to a formidable France side in their last 16 tie on Tuesday, the last of the African teams to exit the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

But Pedros says their unexpected run to the knockout stages is a similar achievement to Morocco’s men’s side reaching the semi-finals of their World Cup in Qatar last year.

“I sincerely believe that getting to the last 16 with this team, for the first time, is the equivalent of the guys getting to the semi-finals,” he told reporters.

“It is beyond fantastic. We only started building this team three years ago. There are so many things that make us proud even though we have been knocked out.

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“Being in a World Cup last 16 for Morocco is exceptional. It has been a remarkable adventure.”

Morocco had not appeared at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in 22 years when they hosted the tournament last year and reached the final, losing 2-1 to South Africa but showing their new-found potential to compete.

That reputation has been further enhanced by their showing at the World Cup, which started with a 6-0 loss to Germany, but was followed by 1-0 wins over South Korea and Colombia that sealed their progression to the knockout rounds.

They showed themselves to be organised and disciplined, if a little lacking in forward areas.

But for Frenchman Pedros, there is little time to rest as he has another major championship in his sights and is determined to book a ticket to Paris.

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“I am going to congratulate and thank them (the players) because what they have given us in terms of emotions is quite incredible, and then we will get back down to work,” he said.

“We have the Olympic qualifiers to prepare for and we have gained experience from this. I am really, really proud to be coach of this team because we have fantastic players.”

Morocco will be expected to brush aside Namibia in their opening two-legged qualifier in October but will be on a collision course with fellow World Cup participants Zambia in their half of the draw for a place at the Olympics, where Africa has two places available.

-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

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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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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