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



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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Jos, Plateau Comes Alive As NNL AGA Holds This Friday




All is set for the Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria National League which is scheduled to hold in the capital city of Plateau state.

Already, stakeholders have started arriving the Tin City for the one-day deliberation.

The AGA which is the first activity of the season will see the NNL board meet with the 40 club representatives to fashion our all formalities for a successful season.

Kickoff date, format, funding and other matters of critical importance will be decided at the assembly.

NNL Chairman George Aluo who is already on the ground, gave further insight on the agenda.

“At the NNL AGA we will be rubbing minds with the club owners, share our thoughts and plans with them and be on the same page and decide when the league will start basically, as that is the most important thing so that after the AGA in Jos, we should be able to tell Nigerians when the league will kickoff.”

He continued, “The President of the NFF Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau has given us a mandate to start the league on time and ensure it aligns with the international calendar and that is the direction we want to go. So we have come up with our own plans and by the time we finish with our AGA in Jos, we’ll tell Nigerians what the plans are and how the league will be played.

He revealed that the board ” has put some plans in place as the NNL has been able to partner with the National Institute for Sports (NIS) for a pre-season capacity building seminar for our coaches. We want to upscale our coaches to make them better. Already, we have invited some resource persons from the NIS and the Technical Director of the NFF Augustine Eguavoen who will be involved in that and a Portuguese coach Thiago Conde so, at the end of the day, we would have upscale our coaches technically and before the start of the season by the time you’ve taken them to the classroom, I’m sure it will rub-off on the NNLas the 2023-2023 season gets underway.”

He appreciated the Plateau state Government for hosting the board as they begin deliberation this Friday.

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Colombia 2024: Falconets progress to third round as Mauritius withdraw




The Mauritius Football Association has notified the Confederation of African Football of the withdrawal of the country’s U20 Women National Team from the ongoing African qualifying series for next year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals.

“Kindly note that CAF was informed of the withdrawal of Mauritius FA from the African qualifiers of FIFA U20 WWC 2024. Consequently, Nigeria is qualified to the next round of the competition and the missions of all officials of matches 37 & 38 are cancelled,” read a communication from CAF to the Nigeria Football Federation.

The Falconets were to fly to Mauritius next week for the first leg in Saint Pierre against the Mauritius U20 girls, with the return leg scheduled for the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, 14th October.

With this situation, 2022 World Cup quarter-finalists Nigeria now progress to the next round of the qualification series.

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Confed Cup: Insurance players vow to beat RS Berkane for their chief motivator, Obaseki




As Federation Cup champion, Bendel Insurance of Benin plays RS Berkane on Friday in a Caf Confederation Cup match, the players and officials said they are ready to shed blood to win for the good people and government of Edo State especially their number one supporter and motivator Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Though Insurance has a mountain to climb in the decisive leg in Morocco after they were forced to a 2-2 draw by RS Berkane at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, in the first leg on Saturday, September 16, they are confident that will beat their host and qualify for the next round of the competition.

Monday Odigie’s side will miss the services of striker Osarenkhoe Imade, who scored their opener in the first leg as well as their other goal in the last round.

The 22-year-old just penned a deal with United Arab Emirates side, United FC.

Despite missing their highest goal scorer from last season, stand-in captain and goalkeeper, Amas Obasigie, echoed the confidence of the team.

“Knowing the honour that awaits us if we beat our opponents to qualify for the group stage, we are going to fight for everything in the field of play to go home happy. We made two mistakes in Benin and will not want a repeat. We are facing very strong opponents who have been champions twice in a space of three years, but we will not allow their intimidation to affect our play. They should expect a good fight from us the way they also fought in Benin.

“Above all, we want to fight to win for our state Governor, who has been wonderful in giving his all, in sponsorship and motivation that has taken us thus far both in the domestic league and continental level,” Obasogie said.

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