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WAFCON 2022: Nigeria, Cameroon rekindle rivalry in crucial bat`tle for World Cup, semi-final ticket

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The stakes are high in Thursday’s quarter-final matchup between Nigeria and Cameroon. While the Super Falcons are chasing a ninth consecutive World Cup qualification, the Indomitable Lionesses are chasing a pound of flesh, having been denied the WAFCON title on four occasions by the Falcons.

After both teams finished as runners-up in their respective groups, the two continental football powerhouses will be involved in a supremacy battle to determine not just who faces hosts Morocco in the semi-final but who also gets Africa’s third automatic ticket to the World Cup

While the Super Falcons have clearly triumphed in past meetings with their neighbours Cameroon, many believe caging the Indomitable Lionesses may be a herculean task this time.

This is because the Nigerian women no longer look and play like their fiery past when they easily blew every opposition away on their way to nine titles.

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Cameroon’s motivation of making a third consecutive appearance at the FIFA World Cup will appeal enough to see them throwing everything they’ve got at the Super Falcons.

Cameroon started somewhat slowly in Morocco, drawing with Zambia, but they picked up and their impressive efforts afterward earned them the quarter-final fixture against perennial champions Nigeria.

Interestingly, the Super Falcons also started on a shaky note; losing 2-1 to South Africa’s Banyana Banyana in their opening match of Group C.

But Coach Randy Waldrum-led side has since buckled up; winning their next two games, conceding no goal.

“We are ready to face Cameroon,” Waldrum declared after the Super Falcons arrived in Casablanca on Monday.

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The Falcons will draw inspiration from their impressive record against the Indomitable Lionesses.

Cameroon suffered a 6-0 spanking from the Falcons in the semi-finals of the 1998 Women Africa Cup of Nations (which Nigeria hosted and which was the first edition) but things have improved a bit for the Lionesses since then.

In the semi-finals of the 2010 edition in South Africa, the Falcons thumped them 5-1. Both countries contested the Final matches of the 2014 and 2016 Women AFCON.

In 2014, in Windhoek, Namibia, the Falcons registered a 2-0 victory to lift the trophy for the seventh time. In 2016, in Yaounde, the Lionesses, despite playing in front of their cheering fans, were heartbroken when Desire Oparanozie scored a late goal to hand the trophy to Nigeria for the eighth time.

Four years ago, in Accra, both teams also met in the semi-final stage. It was a tough duel that ended 0-0 after regulation and extra time, but the Falcons again prevailed 4-2 after a penalty shoot-out on the way to their ninth title.

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Though the Super Falcons captain, Onome Ebi, admits the Cameroon clash will be a tough one, the 39-year-old was quick to assure of the team’s readiness to do their best for a positive result.

“Of course, we know what to expect. The Cameroonians also want to go to the World Cup. But we have never missed the World Cup and we won’t start now. Our eyes are fully focused on Australia & New Zealand, and then we can start talking about the trophy.” Ebi declared.

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Nigeria’s 4-0 win against Burundi is the biggest victory so far in Morocco and the Super Falcons boast of the most lethal attack after the group stage with their seven-goal haul.

While we expect Coach Waldrum to keep faith with the attacking pair of Rasheedat Ajibade and Uchenna Kanu, who have scored two goals each, the American may have other tricks up his sleeve to unsettle the Cameroonians.

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Former NFL star OJ Simpson dies

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OJ Simpson, the former American football star turned actor who was controversially cleared of double murder, has died aged 76.

Simpson died of cancer on Wednesday “surrounded by his children and grandchildren”, a family statement read.

San Francisco-born Orenthal James Simpson rose to fame in college before playing in the NFL.

In 1995, he was acquitted of the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend in a trial that gripped America.

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In 2008, he was sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment on unrelated charges of armed robbery. He was released in 2017.

In 1994, Simpson was arrested as a suspect in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. The pair were found stabbed to death outside Ms Brown’s home in Los Angeles. Simpson became an immediate person of interest in the case.

On the day he was due to turn himself in, he fled in a white Ford Bronco with a former teammate, and led the police on a slow-speed chase through the Los Angeles area.

That chase engrossed audiences in the United States and abroad as it was broadcast live on “rolling” 24-hour news channels still in their relative infancy.

In the ensuing court case, dubbed the “trial of the century” by US media, prosecutors argued Simpson had killed Brown in a jealous fury. Evidence included blood, hair and fibre tests linking Simpson to the murders.

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The defence argued Simpson was framed by police who were motivated by racism.

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In one of the trial’s most memorable moments, prosecutors asked Simpson to put on a pair of blood-stained gloves allegedly found at the scene of the murder, but Simpson struggled to fit his hands into them. It led to one of Simpson’s lawyers, Johnnie Cochrane, telling the jury in his closing arguments: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

The jury ultimately sided with Simpson, who had declared he was “absolutely 100% not guilty”. The acquittal proved hugely controversial.

The families of Ms Smith and Mr Goldman did not give up – they pursued a civil case against Simpson in 1997 and a jury found Simpson liable for the two deaths. He was ordered to pay $33.5m (£25.8m) in damages to their families.

In 2006, Simpson sold a book manuscript, titled “If I Did It”, and a prospective TV interview, giving a “hypothetical” account of the murders he had always strenuously denied.

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Public objections ended both projects, but Mr Goldman’s family secured the book rights, added material imputing guilt to Simpson and had it published.

Simpson’s final disgrace came in 2008, when he was convicted of armed robbery for breaking into a Las Vegas hotel room with four accomplices, holding two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint and stealing items related to his NFL career.

He was sentenced to 33 years in jail, but was granted parole after serving the minimum of nine years.

Before his legal problems, Simpson was well-liked, known as an athlete, actor and the face of several major companies.

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He was a college football star at University of Southern California before signing with the Buffalo Bills in 1969, where he played until 1977.

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He became one of the greatest ball carriers in NFL history. In 1973, he was the first NFL player to “rush” – running to advance the ball for his team – more than 2,000 yards in a season.

He retired in 1979 to concentrate on a career in film and television. His credits include roles in the Towering Inferno, Capricorn One and the Naked Gun series.

Broadcaster Bob Costas, who worked with Simpson on NBC’s American football coverage, said that while he was not the first African American star, “he was the first to do it in a big way, an African American who broke through”.

The Heisman Trophy organization, which names college football’s player of the season, said in a tweet that it mourned the 1968 winner and extended sympathies to his family.

In a statement, the Pro Football Hall of Fame outlined Simpson’s achievements as an NFL player, and said records of those contributions would be preserved in its archive.

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Fred Goldman, Ronald’s father, described Simpson’s death as “no great loss”.

“The only thing I have to say is it’s just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years,” he told the NBC News network. “It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”

Caitlyn Jenner, once part of Simpson’s social circle, echoed Goldman, posting two words on Twitter/X: “Good riddance.”

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PSG to pay huge buyout fee for Osimhen

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Both top French and Italian media outlets have reported that PSG is ready to pay the massive buyout fee set by Napoli for Victor Osimhen.

The fee is believed to be around €130 million.

Various publications from both France and Italy said Osimhen, whose valuation by Transfermarkt is put at €110 million, is the No 1 target for PSG to replace Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe is widely expected to finally make his way to Real Madrid after many months of speculations.

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By meeting the buyout fee for Osimhen, PSG will therefore not have to negotiate with Napoli.

Osimhen has also been linked to several top Premier League clubs, but they would rather prefer to pay far less than the striker’s buyout fee.

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Liverpool back to top after thrashing Sheffield United

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Liverpool are back to the top of the English Premier League after thrashing Sheffield United 3-1 at the Anfield Stadium in London.

Liverpool took the lead in the 17th minute of the match. Keeper Ivo Grbic totally miss-kicked his clearance straight to Darwin Nunez, who rifled the ball back into the net from close range.

In the 58th minute, Conor Bradley scored an unlucky own goal. He deflects a shot into his own net to make it 1-1.

In the 76th minute, Liverpool made it 2-1. The ball rebounded and arrived at the feet of Alexis Mac Allister just outside the box. He fired a brilliant shot into the top right corner. His attempt was beyond the reach of Ivo Grbic.

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In the 90th minute, Liverpool made it 3-1. Andrew Robertson showcased his brilliant technique and produced a beautiful lofted cross into the box. Cody Gakpo got onto the scoresheet by heading it low inside the right post.

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