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Commonwealth Games: England’s strong start paves way for victory over Malawi



England continued the defence of their Commonwealth Games title with a 66-41 victory over Malawi on Saturday afternoon.

Jess Thirlby’s outfit started much faster than they had done against Trinidad & Tobago the day prior.
Eleanor Cardwell and Stacey Francis-Bayman both thrived after being handed starting roles and a 35-20 half-time lead set England on their way.
Following half-time changes, the home side stuttered during a drawn third quarter before reasserting themselves quickly after the last break and creating another comfortable final scoreline.
England now have a rest day before returning to court on Monday against Northern Ireland. In the earlier match, Scotland fell to a 83-30 defeat at the hands of the Australian Diamonds.
Thirlby opted to make changes to her starting seven for this second pool match, including a new shooting combination.
Helen Housby dropped to the bench with Eleanor Cardwell, who shot 30 from 30 as a replacement on day one, combining with Jo Harten. Jade Clarke shifted out to centre, while Stacey Francis-Bayman was handed the wing defence bib to link up with Layla Guscoth and Geva Mentor.
Francis-Bayman and Cardwell both made instant impacts.The former picked off the first interception of the match and the latter maintained her 100 per cent accuracy throughout the quarter. In fact, Cardwell wouldn’t miss a shot until just before half-time.
As the opening 15 minutes progressed, Guscoth and Mentor consistently added to Francis-Bayman’s work.
The intensity of the pressure they put on shooters Joyce Mvula and Mwai Kumwenda forced errors, while 17 penalties against the Malawi Queens overall handed England plenty of ball to work with.
A 19-9 quarter set England on their way and an unchanged line-up ensured the home team continued where they left off during the second quarter.
Malawi amended their personnel and the arrival of a shorter goal attack Jane Chimaliro, helped them to get their own scoreboard moving but turnovers against them still proved to be costly.
Thirlby made changes at the interval, introducing Housby at goal attack and keeping Laura Malcolm at centre after her arrival shortly before half-time.
Clarke returned at wing defence with Francis-Bayman moving back a position to goal defence.
Malawi produced a couple of early errors in the quarter before they really settled and clicked at both ends.
Towera Vinkhumbo’s move out to goal defence was a profitable one. Kumwenda and Mvula, back together on court again, found their groove, while England lost theirs in their attacking goal third.
Malcolm couldn’t see options in front of her, a couple of missed shots again came off the arm of Housby and the connection between her and Harten didn’t look as telepathic as it has been in previous seasons.
Malawi rattled England, took a 12-8 lead in the quarter and went on to draw it 13-13.
Cardwell arrived back on court for the final quarter, being put in at shooter alongside Housby. Imogen Allison worked well fresh on court at wing defence and the whole team used the first few minutes to really reassert themselves.
England’s foot went back on the gas for the remained for the final 15 minutes and that ensured they will take a positive feeling into their rest day and next match against Northern Ireland on Monday.

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2024 WAFCON qualifier: Super Falcons arrive Praia for Cape Verde clash



Ahead of Tuesday’s second leg of the 2024 Women’s African Cup of Nations qualifier, Nigeria’s Super Falcons have landed in Praia for the game.

The Nigerian side dominated and won the first leg 5-0 at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja on Thursday and the result gave them hope to scaling the hurdle to the competition.

Super Falcons departed the shore of the country on Saturday and safely arrived at the Praia, the capital city of Cape Verde in the early hours of Sunday.

Falcons are willing to qualify and do better in the competition next year after they finished in the 4th position in the last edition that was held in Morocco.


The game against the Blue Shark of Cape Verde is scheduled to take place on Tuesday with the winner over the two legs reaching the competition slated for Morocco.

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Osimhen won’t renew Napoli contract



Nigeria international Victor Osimhen’s departure from Napoli is almost looking certain after Italian football transfer expert Fabrizio Romano said the striker was unlikely to renew his contract with the Italian champions,

Osimhen has been linked with several European clubs with English Premier League duo, Chelsea and Arsenal, leading the race for the Nigerians.

Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, had on several occasions said that the club’s most prized asset would not be sold this summer even if their valuation of €200m was met.

“Osimhen will stay here. He won’t leave,” he told Sky in August.


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Super Eagles drop two places in latest FIFA rankings



The Super Eagles of Nigeria have dropped by two spots in the latest FIFA ranking to place 42nd in the world.

In the ranking table on the website of the world football governing body, on Thursday, the Eagles dropped 16.04 points to rank 1474.44 points as against 1490.48 in October.

However, the drop did not affect the team’s placement on the continent, as it still remained the 6th team on the continent, behind Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, respectively.

The drop in ranking comes after the Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw in their two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho on Nov. 16 and Zimbabwe on Nov. 19.


Although Argentina (1st) still leads the way ahead of France (2nd), England (3rd, up 1) is now in the trio of teams at the front of the pack, followed by Belgium (4th, up 1), who have also climbed one place.

Although Brazil (5th, down 2) have lost ground following back-to-back defeats by Colombia and Argentina, they have clung on to their place in the top 5.

The Netherlands (6th, up 1) and Portugal (7th, down 1) have traded places in the top 10, which is once again completed by Spain (8th), Italy (9th) and Croatia (10th).

Uruguay (11th, up 4) have made solid progress, but they have to be content with a place just outside the top 10.

The Comoros Islands (119th, up 9), meanwhile, enjoyed an even better month with wins against the Central African Republic and Ghana, and have two reasons to celebrate as they are now in 119th place, their highest-ever position.

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Kosovo (101st, up 4) may not have climbed as many positions as the Comorans, but the Kosovans are also now higher in the ranking than ever before.

Guinea-Bissau (103rd, up 7), Azerbaijan (114th, up 6), Libya (120th, up 6), Malaysia (130th, up 7) and Rwanda (133rd, up 7) are the other big movers in the November ranking.

The ranking also had the re-entry of Samoa (187th), American Samoa (188th) and Tonga (196th), who were all playing international football again following months of inactivity.

The ranking took into consideration FIFA World Cup qualifiers that took place in African countries as well as in Asia and South America.

The other confederations’ schedules considered included UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying matches, Concacaf Nations League 2023-24 encounters and the Pacific Games 2023.


These matches all had a significant effect on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, including on the make-up of the podium.

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