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Super Falcons battle France for knockout stage ticket

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The 28,000 capacity Roazhon Park in Rennes is the venue for tonight’s big FIFA Women’s World Cup clash between Nigeria and France, with group leaders Les Bleus already qualified for the knockout rounds and the Super Falcons looking for a ticket to that corridor.

Head Coach Thomas Dennerby took his charges through a pre-match final training session on Sunday at the Stade Edmund Blanchet and reiterated that a positive mindset, as well as a calm, collected and surefooted approach, could work wonders for the Falcons against the French.

“This is important for us and I believe you can rise to the occasion just as you did against the Koreans. The French have a good team but we are also a good squad and I think we can get a result if we have that mindset that it is eleven players against eleven and we stick to our tactics for the day.

“Victory against the Koreans was very good. But I can assure that beating France would be even sweeter. It will certainly take us to the knockout stage and also win us that confidence that we can prevail against any team.”
Nigeria’s power-playing trio – Desire Oparanozie, Rita Chikwelu, and Francisca Ordega – all must play with caution as they are each on a yellow card and would be ruled out of the Round of 16 if they are cautioned against the Les Bleus on Monday.

Yet, the African champions refuse to be bothered by this and captain Desire Oparanozie told thenff.com they know the approach to adopt in Rennes.

“The win over the Korea Republic taught us that so much is possible if we put our minds to it and we work hard. There is nothing to fear. We will go in there against France and give our best, and we are confident that our best will be good enough to take us to the next round.”

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Algeria crowned African champions

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Algeria has won its second AFCON title in Egypt after 29 years they did as hosts in 1990. Baghdad Bounedjah’s second-minute goal was all the Desert Warriors needed to claim the crown in Egypt.


For Senegal, the search for their first AFCON title continues despite coming so close to it as they did in 2002. Baghdad Bounedjah’s shot took a huge deflection off Salif Sane and looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomes.

Senegal was awarded a penalty for handball in the second half but it was overturned after a VAR review.

Algeria closed out the rest of the game to win their first title since 1990.
Senegal’s players collapsed on the pitch in tears at the final whistle.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, who said before the game he would swap his Champions League winners medal for Africa Cup of Nations success, looked disconsolate as Algeria players celebrated around him.

“Without the players I am nothing,” said Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi. “They are the main ones. I suppose the staff played its part in guiding the players but they applied the instructions incredibly well.”

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Mikel calls time on Super Eagles career

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Super Eagles’ skipper, Mikel Obi has retired from international football stating that it was time to allow youths to take over. 32-year-old Obi made the disclosure via his Instagram handle @mikel_john_obi on Thursday, after leading the side to the third place of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

He made his debut at AFCON in the 2006 tournament hosted by Egypt.

“Egypt is a country where I started and have finished my national career. In 2006, I played my first official championship for my country.

‘‘2019 African Cup of Nations marks my last championship for the national team with Super Eagles,” he wrote on his page.

The 32-year-old began his career in 2003.

“My national career started in 2003 under 17 World Cup and ‘am grateful to the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skills and have an incredible national and international career.

“At the age of 32, it’s time for me to retire from the national team and let the youth take over, we’ve done an amazing job by securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019.

“Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my country for all the trust, support and love you’ve shown me over the past 15 years.”

Mikel also won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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Nigeria matches into AFCON semi-finals

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Nigeria became the second team (after Senegal) to reach 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal after defeating South Africa 2-1 at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night.
Samuel Chukwueze opened the deadlock after 27 minutes. VAR was used to confirm South Africa’s equalizer scored by Bongani Zungu after 74 minutes, but William Troost Ekong scored one minute from time to send the Super Eagles for the semifinal for the first time since they were crowned champions in 2013.
South Africa will leave Egypt with heads high after reaching the last eight despite playing in the group of death, and then eliminating hosts and favorites Egypt from the Round of 16.
Wilfried N’didi gave Bafana Bafana an idea of what to expect when he had the first shot after 6 minutes. And despite seeing South Africa with more possession, Nigeria had the lion share of chances.
Chukwueze broke the deadlock after 27 minutes after receiving the ball from Alex Iwobi inside the vital area. His initial shot was deflected from defense but he managed to collect the ball again and score past Ronwen Williams between South Africa’s posts.
South Africa tried to equalize but couldn’t pose real threats to Nigeria’s defense and goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.
After the break, Nigeria was about to double their lead. Peter Etebo sent a scorcher from a free kick but Williams hand and the crossbar stopped him after 51 minutes.
And after 73 minutes VAR interfered to give South Africa the equalizer. From a free kick, Bongani Zungu sent a header that wronged Akpeyi. The goal was initially ruled offside but VAR proved the ball came from a Nigerian defender back to let the goal stand.
Iwobi tried to restore Nigeria’s lead but his shot missed the target after 80 minutes.
And when it seemed the game is going to extra time, Williams made a fatal mistake when he missed a corner kick to leave William Troost Ekong to score in the empty net wending the Super Eagles to the semifinal.
The Super Eagles will now wait to see their opponents from Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire who lock horns in Suez on Thursday.

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Super Falcons scrape into knockout stage

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The Super Falcons on Thursday qualified for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years. The Falcons have reached the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup just once before now, a quarter-final appearance in the competition in the United States in 1999.


They will confront former champions Germany in the last 16 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Grenoble on Saturday.

The Falcons qualified as one of the best losers to the round of 16 after finishing third in Group A behind France and Norway but had to endure a torrid time before confirming their place in the last 16 of the event.

The African champions had ended their Group A campaign with three points, courtesy of a 2-0 win over the Korea Republic and losses to former champions Norway (3-0) and hosts France (1-0).

But they had to wait three days later after their final group game on Monday to know their fate.
And the Nigerians were almost left frustrated after Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses beat New Zealand 2-1, meaning they (Falcons) had to slip from third on the best third-placed teams table to fourth.

A 3-0 win for Chile over Thailand would have ended the Falcons dreams of qualification but having led 2-0, the South Americans lost a penalty late on in dramatic fashion to hand the Nigerians a spot in the knockout stage.

Cameroon also qualified as one of the third best-placed teams, thus making it the first time two Africans will reach the knockout stages of the competition.

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