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WWC: Sweden end Japan run to set up World Cup semifinal with Spain

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Amanda Ilestedt scored her fourth goal of the tournament and Filippa Angeldal netted a penalty as Sweden hung on to beat Japan 2-1 on August 11 and set up a Women’s World Cup semifinal with Spain.

Centre-back Ilestedt poked in just after the half-hour mark at Eden Park in Auckland to give Sweden a deserved lead and leave Japan trailing for the first time at the World Cup.

Angeldal made it 2-0 from a penalty seven minutes into the second half before Japan attempted a comeback, with Riko Ueki missing a spot-kick and Honoka Hayashi pulling one back with three minutes left of normal time.

Sweden then survived a late storm to advance to the semifinals for the third time in four World Cups.

The exit of the 2011 champions Japan, following the United States, Germany and Norway, means there are no former winners left and a brand-new name will appear on the trophy after next weekend’s final in Sydney.

If Sweden, runners-up in 2003, are to get there they will have to win a semifinal in Auckland next Tuesday against Spain, who defeated the Netherlands 2-1 earlier Friday in Wellington.

This was billed as the ultimate clash of footballing styles, between a slick and clinical Japan and a more rugged and aggressive Sweden.

Peter Gerhardsson’s Swedish team took the game to their opponents, who sat back in a 5-4-1 out of possession but were rarely given the space to spring forward on the counterattack like they had done to such devastating effect in previous rounds.

Japan had started to dream of a run to match their remarkable triumph in 2011 but instead find themselves eliminated at the hands of the same team that beat them in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.

The opener arrived in the 32nd minute following a set-piece, exactly the scenario where the Japanese had been expected to struggle against their more physically imposing opponents.

The Nadeshiko failed to clear their lines as a free-kick dropped in their box, and the ball eventually fell to Ilestedt to stab into the roof of the net after her centre-back partner Magdalena Eriksson had an effort blocked.

Ilestedt, who has just signed for Arsenal, had already netted three times in the group phase and is, remarkably, a contender to win the golden boot with current leading scorer Hinata Miyazawa, on five goals, now out.

Miyazawa had little influence on this game and Sweden could have scored again before half-time, with captain Kosovare Asllani having a shot turned onto the post by the outstretched fingertips of Ayaka Yamashita.

The Japan goalkeeper then produced another fine save two minutes after the restart to push a Johanna Kaneryd shot behind for a corner.

Yet it was that corner which led to the second goal. The delivery from the right struck the fist of Fuka Nagano in her own box, and the Liverpool player’s offence was spotted by the referee after a review.

Manchester City midfielder Angeldal stepped up to convert the spot-kick, sending Yamashita the wrong way.

Japan did not give up and won a penalty in the 76th minute when substitute Ueki went down under the slightest of contact from Madelen Janogy.

It was a soft award, but Ueki could not convert, smashing her kick off the underside of the bar and out.

The woodwork rescued Sweden again in the 87th minute when Aoba Fujino’s free-kick remarkably hit the bar, rebounded off the back of goalkeeper Zecira Musovic and struck the post.

Yet seconds later Japan had a goal back as Eriksson failed to deal with Kiko Seike’s centre and Hayashi pounced to score, setting up a frantic finale.

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Nigeria Premier League

Ebi Egbe Lauds Elegbeleye, Aluo On Improved Fortunes Of Nigerian Football

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Renowned sports facility construction expert, Ebi Egbe, has expressed his satisfaction with the improved standards of the Nigerian football

Renowned sports facility construction expert, Ebi Egbe, has expressed his satisfaction with the improved standards of the Nigerian football league, particularly, the NPFL and the NNL, ably led by Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye and George Aluo respectively.

According to Egbe, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Monimitchelle Sports Facilities Company, Elegbeleye, has turned the NPFL to an attractive brand and with huge crowds coming back to watch the matches.

“I’m very impressed with what Hon. Elegbeleye is doing with the NPFL. Standards of matches have improved tremendously and importantly, the crowds are coming back to the stadium to watch their favourite teams.”

Egbe was equally effusive in praises for the Chairman of the NNL, George Aluo, who he commended for bringing vitality and improved organisation to the NNL.

“And without a doubt, George Aluo, has improved the organisation and standard of the league. The ongoing NNL Super 8 is a testament to the fact that the league can only get better,” Egbe said.

He went ahead to admonish well placed individuals and corporate organisations to give more supports to the Nigerian local football bodies.

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10th Nigeria Pitch Awards: Sanwo-Olu, Elegbeleye, Soname, Finidi in the spotlight as ceremony holds on Saturday

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There will be real pomp and pageantry in the city of Uyo on Saturday as the tenth edition of Nigeria Pitch Awards comes to town. The Ibom Hotel and Golf Resorts is the venue.

There will be real pomp and pageantry in the city of Uyo on Saturday as the tenth edition of Nigeria Pitch Awards comes to town. The Ibom Hotel and Golf Resorts is the venue.

Shina Phillips, chief organizer of the awards, said on Thursday that all is set for a ceremony that will be full of panache, glitz and glamour.

“As I said a couple of weeks ago, we are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a memorable tenth edition of the awards. All is set, and we are in Uyo not only to put up a super-show, but to mobilize resources within our capacity to support the Super Eagles to victory in tomorrow’s match. As an organization, we will continue to genuinely appreciate the NFF, the Super Eagles, all our friends, enablers, affiliates and commercial partners, for their support over the past 10 years, and to promise that the values of transparency, integrity and credibility will never depart from the Nigeria Pitch Awards.”

Nominees have been picked in all 18 award categories, with the winners to be unveiled on Saturday. The award categories include Goalkeeper of the Year, Defender of the Year, Midfielder of the Year, Striker of the Year, Queen of the Pitch, King of the Pitch, Sam Okwaraji Award, Football Pitch, Football-Friendly Governor, Corporate Sponsor, alongside several honours for media representatives.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Kayode Bankole (Remo Stars); Amas Obasogie (Bendel Insurance); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba FC)

Defender of the Year: Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC); Ola Aina (Nottingham Forest); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce SK)

Midfielder of the Year: Alhassan Yusuf (Royal Antwerp); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City); Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC)

Striker of the Year: Robert Mizo (Bayelsa United); Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen)

Queen of the Pitch: Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico de Madrid Femenino); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC); Asisat Oshoala (Bay FC)

King of the Pitch: Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Emeka Obioma (Enyimba FC); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen)

Team of the Year: Super Falcons; Enyimba FC; Remo Stars

Coach of the Year: Daniel Ogunmodede (Remo Stars); Finidi George (Enyimba FC); Randy Waldrum (Super Falcons)

Sam Okwaraji Award: Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Ahmed Musa; Kunle Soname (Proprietor, Remo Stars)

State With The Best Grassroots Football Development Programme: Edo State; Delta State; Lagos State

Football Pitch of the Year: Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos; Remo Stars Stadium, Ikenne; Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo

Football-Friendly Governor of the Year: His Excellency Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom State); His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos State); His Excellency Godwin Obaseki (Edo State)

Corporate Sponsor of Football: Bet9ja (Sport Betting); GTI (Financial Services); MTN (Telecom)

Sportsmanship Award: Hon. Kunle Soname (Proprietor, Remo Stars); Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC); Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye (Chairman, NPFL Board)

Football Journalist of the Year (Print): Christian Okpara (The Guardian); Charles Diya (New Telegraph); Johnny Edward (Punch Newspapers)

Football Journalist of the Year (TV): Miyen Akiri (TVC); Mozez Praiz (SuperSport); Cecilia Omorogbe (Channels TV)

Football Journalist of the Year (Radio): Olawale Adigun (Mainland FM); Yinka Oyedele (Brila 88.9 FM); Anthony Bekederemo (Brila 88.9 FM)

Football Journalist of the Year (Online): Samuel Ahmadu (Savid News); Tobi Adepoju (Oganla Media); Kunle Solaja (sportsvillagesquare.com)

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Eyimba FC International on expansionist mission- Ekwueme

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Nigerian professional football league and continental soccer record holders, Eyimba football club fc of Aba has commenced the

Nigerian professional football league and continental soccer record holders, Eyimba football club fc of Aba has commenced the implementation of an expansionist idea that would spread the club franchise, further past its current torrents, the club Sporting Director, ex intetnational , Ifeanyi Ekwueme has disclosed.

Ekwueme speaking in Kano last Tuesday,.further revealed that the club management under the pilot of Atlanta 96, Olympics football gold medalist, Kanu Nwankwo has embarked on the implementation of a newly designed development template that would stampede the influence of the club franchise on Nigerian, African and international football climes.

He said, Eyimba fc is a trademark that has excelled over time, Kanu Nwankwo regime currently at the helms of affairs at the club is building on the heroic achievements of the club by resorting to building bridges across Nigeria and beyond.

Ekwueme said ” we have signed partnership that involves exchange programmes, we are committed to coaches development mini and major projects

He further said ” we now have the requisite development structures, with our now in place youth football and semi professional talent development programmes , this is vital and critical.

” Eyimba is not a stagnant or zero football brand, we are a broad football brand, that is why, we are committed to partnerships that are results oriented and have them spread across Nigeria and extend same to the continent and beyond.

He averred that though there are challenges, the current leadership of the club is focused and committed towards surmounting the hurdles and posed to take the club to the zenith of club side football, where Eyimba fc is rightly believed to belong to.

Ekwueme appealed to the fans and their partners to keep faith with the Eyimba fc brand , stating that the club has witnessed enviable improvements in the area of football coorporate administration that he said is now yielding dividends and would continue to help the Aba football warlords to improve in the delivery of mandated club football services and business divdends expected by all stakeholders.

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