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Costa Rica 2022: Falconets seek three precious points against France

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Two-time runners-up and one-time semi-finalists Nigeria are upbeat about scooping the three points when they go up against one of Europe’s top teams, France in the opening match of Group C of this year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals in San Jose on Thursday night.

Head Coach Christopher Danjuma minces no words about his faith in the high-scoring Falconets delivering on Thursday and afterward: “The World Cup stage is about players’ mentality; we have prepared the team very well in that area. You have to go out there, aim to be the best, and work hard to be the best. It is not a picnic. I believe that these girls will do Nigeria proud.

“Playing seven matches in the African qualifying series toughened the team very well, and we have also worked on their psyche. Nigeria has never been an also-ran at this level. Having reached the final twice and made the semi-finals once, the Falconets have pedigree in this championship. We cannot afford to falter. We will take it one match at a time, beginning with the game against France.”

Danjuma, who also led the team to the last tournament in France four years ago, where they lost narrowly to Spain (1-2) in the quarter-finals, is banking on the experience of the captain and central defender Oluwatosin Demehin, the lively midfield orchestra of Esther Onyenezide, Deborah Abiodun and Adoo Yina, and the ever-potent forward line of Flourish Sabastine, Mercy Idoko and Joy Jerry.

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First choice Monle Oyono is expected to be in goal against the French team, with wingbacks Omowunmi Oshobukola and Jumoke Alani also favoured to retain their places.

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In the African qualifying series, the rampant Falconets hit 11 goals past the hapless Central African Republic in the second round and spanked the Republic of Congo 4-0 in Brazzaville –with the consequence that the Congolese failed to turn up for the return leg in Nigeria.

They then routed Cameroon 3-0 on aggregate in the fourth round. The final qualifying fixture against Senegal was effectively over after Flourish Sabastine hit a hat-trick away in Thies before the home team got a consolation goal from the spot late in the game.

On Thursday, Danjuma will be goading his girls to summon every sinew of strength, skill, and savvy in them to overpower France and collect three points that will stabilize their campaign and empower their quest to go all the way.

“It will not be easy but we have what is known as the special ‘Nigeria spirit’ and we will go in there with confidence and belief in what we can do. We will play to our strengths – firm at the back and clinical at the fore.”

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Falconet’s Games
Vs France – Thursday, 11th August – Estadio Nacional – 12 midnight
Vs Korea Republic – Sunday, 14th August – Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto – 9 pm
Vs Canada – Thursday, 18th August – Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto – 3 am

Groups
Group A: Costa Rica, Australia, Spain, Brazil
Group B: Germany, Colombia, New Zealand, Mexico
Group C: France, Nigeria, Canada, Korea Republic
Group D: Japan, The Netherlands, Ghana, USA

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Olise’s late strike gets Palace point against United

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Michael Olise has helped Crystal Palace get a point against Manchester United in their 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park Stadium on Wednesday night.

The midfielder’s late strike in extra-time, 91′, levelled the game against United, who had controlled the lead since the 43rd minute of the first half after Bruno Fernandes’ fine finish put the Red Devils ahead just before the break.

A relentless Olise scored from a free kick with a left-footed shot to the top right corner. The equalising goal saw United’s dream of replacing defending EPL champions City in the second place on the league table, fade away, as they remain third with 39 points, having played a game more than City.

Crystal Palace remains in 12th place with 23 points.

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Atletico Madrid head coach speaks on leaving Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid head coach, Diego Simeone, has insisted that nobody has personally told him to leave the club.

Rumours have persisted that Simeone, 52, could be set to end this 11-year stay at Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

However, the Argentine has now stated that no one at the club has asked him to quit the La Liga giants.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Copa del Rey tie with Levante on Wednesday night, Simeone said when asked about reports suggesting he would leave the club at the end of the season: “No one has personally asked me to leave.”

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However, having already been eliminated from UEFA Champions League and sitting 13 points behind leaders Barcelona in the La Liga table, the Copa del Rey is Atletico Madrid’s last realistic opportunity for a trophy this season.

It has been a disappointing campaign for Simeone’s side, as they sit fourth in the league.

Simeone added, “The boys are enthusiastic to reverse this situation that we have experienced since the break and prior to the World Cup. It’s been a regular to a bad season. For me, there is growth after the break, hopefully, we will continue in that line.”

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EPL: Frank Lampard won’t run away – Shaun Wright-Phillips

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Former Chelsea player, Shaun Wright-Phillips has backed his former teammate, Frank Lampard to stay at Goodison Park and turn things around.

Wright-Phillips said his former team-mate does not run away from challenges such as Everton is facing now but would face them squarely

Lampard is in danger of being sacked any moment from now after yet another defeat on Friday.

Everton crashed out of the FA Cup on Friday after they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford

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Frank Lampard has now led Toffees to six defeats in their last seven matches and they have also crashed out of the Carabao Cup and are currently 18th in the Premier League.

“Frank Lampard has always been a player and a person that won’t run away from things not going well,” Wright-Phillips told the BBC.

“He is the type of person to try and solve it or try and make the situation a lot better…”

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