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Morocco makes World Cup history, beats Colombia 1-0 to reach knockout rounds

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Morocco beat Colombia 1-0 to make it to the Women’s World Cup knockout round, creating yet more history at the global tournament.

Morocco is the first Arab or North African nation to go beyond the group stage at the Women’s World Cup, and the only one of eight tournament newcomers to advance.

Morocco’s winning goal came in first-half stoppage time, when Anissa Lahmari put back a penalty-save rebound.

The win meant Morocco qualifies in second place in the group, behind Colombia, and knocking two-time champion Germany out of the tournament. No. 2-ranked Germany needed a win over South Korea in a game being played simultaneously in Brisbane, but was held to a 1-1 draw.

If Morocco’s qualification for the Women’s World Cup inspired a generation, this will cement the legacy of the Atlas Lionesses.

The Moroccans were trounced 6-0 by Germany in their debut game in the tournament, but bounced back with consecutive wins over South Korea and a Colombia team that had been growing in confidence after edging Germany.

Colombia had its best scoring chance in the 59th minute, when its 18-year-old superstar, Linda Caicedo, served a ball to the far post, which Daniela Montoya one-timed to the left of goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi. Er-Rmichi made a kick save, blocking the ball with just the front edge of her right cleat.

In the 69th, Caicedo, after a long run, stopped and leaned on the field barrier, reaching down to her left ankle and foot. She appeared hobbled for several minutes but stayed in the match.

Why it matters
Moroccan soccer fans have had plenty of celebrate with their national teams at the World Cup. The Atlas Lionesses had created history just by qualifying, and then just by scoring their first win. Beating Colombia to knock Germany out of the tournament was completely unexpected for most.

Morocco’s men’s team also made World Cup history last year. In the 2022 men’s World Cup, the Atlas Lions advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1986 and became the first African or Arab nation to reach a World Cup semi-final.

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Celtic vow to break 10-year Champions League spell against Lazio

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Once feared as a fortress of European football, Celtic are aiming to end a 10-year wait for a Champions League win at home when Lazio visit Parkhead on Wednesday 4 October 2023.

Brendan Rodgers wasted no time on his return as the Hoops’ manager in revealing his ambition to finally make a mark on the Champions League.

CELTIC RECORD ALONGSIDE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
In domestic football, Celtic remain in a class of their own, having won 11 of the last 12 Scottish Premiership titles and four domestic trebles in the past six seasons.

But Rodgers was in charge during his first spell at the club the last time the Hoops won a game in Europe’s elite competition in 2017 away to Anderlecht.

After failing to qualify for the next four seasons, Celtic collected just two points from six games on their return to the Champions League last season under Ange Postecoglou despite some impressive performances.

The reality facing Rodgers was laid bare in a 2-0 defeat to Feyenoord two weeks ago.

After a bright start, the visitors were undone by red cards to new signings Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm, whose inexperience showed on their Champions League debuts.

Celtic’s business model of hoovering up young talent from around the globe at bargain prices to be developed and sold on at big profits has been highly successful for the club’s bank balance.

FINANCIAL CONCERN IN THE PREVIOUS SEASON
Financial results for last season revealed a club record pre-tax profit of £40.7 million ($50 million) for the 2022/23 season and £72 million of cash in the bank.

Rodgers could be forgiven for wishing he had, therefore, been handed more significant funds to strengthen his squad in the transfer window, especially after suffering a number of injuries to key players early in the season.

“If you look at the strategy of the club, it’s signing the younger players to develop and improve,” said the Northern Irishman. “You need quality, and you need experience, and that will obviously help and support potential that you have.

“So that’s something that hopefully, over the course of my time here, the squad can regenerate into that way.”

After spending most of his managerial career in the Premier League, Rodgers is having to readjust to living within the constraints of a budget in the small pond of Scottish football.

But he still believes Celtic are capable of far more than they have shown in recent times in European football.

The Scottish champions have not won a knockout tie beyond the qualifying stage in any European competition since 2004, during which time local rivals Rangers have reached the UEFA Cup and Europa League finals.

RODGERS WANTS TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN EUROPE
“We want to see if we can make an impact in Europe,” added Rodgers. “It’s always a challenge at the really highest level, but we want to go in there and see if we can progress and show our good side.”

Lazio’s own troubles give Celtic some encouragement – as does recent success against the Italians. Four years ago, they beat the Biancocelesti home and away in the Europa League group stages.

Lazio arrived in Glasgow sitting just outside the Serie A relegation zone, having won just two of their opening seven league games of the season.

And they only salvaged a point at home to Atletico Madrid in their opening Champions League game thanks to a remarkable stoppage time equaliser by goalkeeper Ivan Provider.

Maurizio Sarri’s men appear there for the taking, but that requires Celtic to rise to the Champions League challenge for the first time in a long time.

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International Friendlies: Omeruo, Iwobi, Osayi-Samuel, Moffi back to Super Eagles

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Head Coach Jose Santos Peseiro has recalled defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Bright Osayi-Samuel, as well as midfielder Alex Iwobi and forward Terem Moffi to the Super Eagles’ squad for this month’s international friendly matches against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique in Portugal. The quartet were absent from the team that demolished Sao Tome and Principe in last month’s 2023 AFCON qualifier in Uyo.

Midfielder Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, of Hatayaspor FC of Turkey gets his first-ever invitation, while Peseiro has decided to retain the trio of Francis Uzoho, Adebayo Adeleye and Olorunleke Ojo in goal. Yet-to-be-capped defender Jordan Torunnarigha is also called.

Wilfred Ndidi, who captained the team against Sao Tome and Principe, as well as Raphael Onyedika and forwards Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman, Victor Osimhen, Taiwo Awoniyi and Kelechi Iheanacho have also been invited.

The Super Eagles take on the Green Falcons of Saudi Arabia in the city of Portimão, Portugal on Friday, 13th October 2023, starting at 5pm before a clash with the Mambas of Mozambique in the same city three days later.

The players are all expected to arrive in Faro, Portugal on Tuesday, 10th October.

Both encounters have been arranged as tune-up games for the Eagles ahead of the commencement of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, in which the three-time African champions host Lesotho’s Crocodiles in Uyo on 17th November before travelling away to play Zimbabwe four days later.

ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Olorunleke Ojo (Enyimba FC); Adebayo Adeleye (Hapoel Jerusalem, Israel)

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Nottingham Forest, England); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Jordan Torunarigha (KAA Gent, Belgium); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (Cardiff FC, Wales); Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista FC, Portugal)

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge, Belgium); Joe Ayodele-Aribo (Southampton FC, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC, England); Fisayo Dele-Bashiru (Hatayaspor FC, Turkey)

Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Ademola Lookman (Atalanta FC, Italy); Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli, Italy); Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest, England); Terem Moffi (OGC Nice, France); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany)

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D’Tigers Storm China On Playing Tour 

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Nigeria Senior Men Basketball team, D’Tigers this morning, left the country for China on a playing tour of games which began this weekend and will end on October 20th. 

 The team which failed in its quest to pick a slot for the 2024 Paris Pre-Olympic Qualifiers held in Lagos, will take part in games across different cities in China. 

Led by Coaches Abdulrahman Mohammed, Baba Jubril and Usman Yakubu, the players on the roster include, Afuwape Michael Okiki, Victor Ezeh, Timothy Kwaor, Ibe Agu, Michael Daramola and Chinedu Chimbou. 

Others are, Wisdom Anyaoha, Nnoruka Francis Junior, Chris Obekpa, Kingsley Onyekachi and Garba Chingka. 

A source within the Nigeria Basketball Federation disclosed that the playing tour is one of the several developmental programmes of the NBBF board led by its President Engr. Musa Kida. 

Adding that it is always a priority of the NBBF to continually develop the local game, while also increasing the pool of basketball talents in the country. 

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