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Australia, England set for titanic Women’s World Cup semifinal

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The Women’s World Cup semifinal clash between Australia and England on Wednesday will be the latest installment in the long rivalry between the nations.

Co-host Australia has the nation behind it as it heads into its first World Cup semifinal, with Stadium Australia expected to be packed with a crowd of around 80,000 fans.

England, however, is the European champion and the favorite to reach the World Cup final, against either Spain or Sweden, for the first time, despite having to first face down a hostile crowd.

England coach Sarina Weigman, who is from the Netherlands, was asked if she fully appreciated the enormity of a match between Australia and England.

“It’s going be really big,” she said.

“But now I’ve had a couple of questions about that so it’s probably going to be bigger than I imagined now.

“I’ll talk to my players and staff and see what that rivalry is.”

The storied rivalry between Australia and England has already added a few episodes this year.

Australia won both the men’s and women’s Ashes cricket series and its netball team rubbed salt in the wound by beating England in the recent World Cup final.

England soccer captain Millie Bright understands how much it means to fans of both countries.

“I don’t think you can’t look forward to that game,” she told reporters after England came back from a goal down to defeat Colombia 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

“This is the biggest tournament in the women’s game to date so what a game to be a part of.

“We’re not just coming here to compete, we’re coming here to get the job done and we’ve shown that in our mentality and character in every single game.”

Teammate Lauren Hemp, who scored the equalizer against Colombia, said the team was ready.

“Australia, bring it on,” she said.

“It’s going to be a packed stadium with so many Australian fans, but we know if we play at our best we are unstoppable.”

England will again be without the suspended Lauren James, but did not miss her in a convincing performance against Colombia in front of a crowd that was roaring on the South Americans.

England may be ranked six places above the Matildas in the FIFA rankings, but Australia is riding a wave of momentum.

The Matildas’ heart-stopping penalty shootout win over France in the quarterfinals was one of the most-viewed sporting events on television in Australia in almost 20 years.

The team has fed off that support in difficult moments and will be banking on more of the same at the imposing Stadium Australia.

The team should also have confidence after its 2-0 win over England in a friendly in April that ended the Lionesses’ 30-match unbeaten run.

Australia also has striker Sam Kerr back in the picture after she was sidelined by a calf injury earlier in the tournament.

Coach Tony Gustavsson’s biggest decision will be whether to start the prolific Chelsea forward.

He has named an unchanged side in the last three games, but Kerr played 65 minutes against France and it looks increasingly likely she will have a bigger role against England.

“What’s good is that we have continuity in what we’re doing,” Gustavsson said.

“We have a clear playing style, so we don’t really need to train to be tactically prepared.

“It’s more about making sure we’re mentally and physically prepared for the semifinal. These players are on a mission.”

Vice captain Steph Catley said the players were “just primed for this moment.”

“We’ve got a perfect little balance of a core group that understand the gravity of the situations and a small group of younger players who might not understand the gravity, which is kind of bliss,” she told reporters.

“You’ve got their confidence and their flair, and then we’ve got mature (players) bringing an understanding to moments like that.”

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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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Nigeria Premier League

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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Nigeria Premier League

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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