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Falconets’ Coach Names World Cup Squad As Team Depart For Costa Rica

Falconets’ Coach Names World Cup Squad As Team Depart For Costa Rica

Falconets’ coach Chris Danjuma has unveiled the squad for the U-20 Women’s World Cup billed to start next week in Costa Rica

A statement from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) shows that the team is made up majorly of players who featured for the country in the competition’s qualification series.

Among them are captain Oluwatosin Demehin and 20 others. The team for the Costa Rica tournament includes three goalkeepers, six defenders; six midfielders, and six strikers.

The Falconets, who departed for Costa Rica on Thursday, defeated the Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Senegal, winning six of seven matches (they only drew with Cameroon in Douala) to qualify for the competition in the Central America nation.

Nigeria, runners-up at the 2014 edition, are in Group C of the 16-nation tournament that begins on August 10 alongside France, Canada, and the Korea Republic.

Their first match is against the French ladies on Friday, August 12 after which they will face the Asians and then Canada.

Africa’s other flagbearers Ghana are up against Cup holders Japan, The Netherlands, and three-time champions United States of America in Group D.

Germany, who have also won the competition three times, including 2010 and 2014 when they beat Nigeria in the final, will play Colombia, New Zealand, and Mexico in Group B.

All group phase and quarter-final games will be played at the Alejandro Morera Soto, which is a hybrid of natural and synthetic grass, called stitched grass. The semi-final, final and third place matches will hold at the Estadio Nacional.


Goalkeepers: Nelly Ekeh, Monle Oyono, Peace Obidinma

Defenders: Oluwatosin Demehin, Omowunmi Oshobukola, Rofiat Imuran, Jumoke Alani, Chidinma Ogbuchi, Oluchi Ohaegbulem

Midfielders: Bashirat Amoo, Esther Onyenezide, Adoo Yina, Motunrayo Amoo, Chinyere Kalu, Deborah Abiodun

Forwards: Blessing Okpe, Joy Jerry, Mercy Idoko, Flourish Sabastine, Chioma Olise, Chiamaka Okwuchukwu


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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US WNBA’s Star Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence

US WNBA’s Star Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence

Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported Monday, amid talks between the U.S. and Russia that could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner, recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, was returning to Russia, where she plays during the U.S. league’s offseason.

Lawyer Maria Blagovolina was quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying the appeal was filed, as was expected, but the grounds for it weren’t immediately clear.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov said after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said that in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

Before her conviction, the U.S. State Department declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a charge that Russia has sharply rejected.

Reflecting the growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn’t elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “Merchant of Death.”

On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said talks about an exchange have been conducted.

“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents,” Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department, told state news agency Tass. “These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals.”

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Pinnick: Why I decided against seeking third term as NFF president

Pinnick: Why I decided against seeking third term as NFF president

Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has opened up on his decision to abstain from seeking a third term in office.

In April 2022, the NFF president, who is in the twilight of his second term, had ruled out a third term bid.

Although Pinnick said he had consulted his family over the decision, he failed to state the reasons that informed the move.

However, in a chat with Arise TV on Monday, the NFF president said some people hate him “for no reason” and that he is tired of dealing with “bitterness and hatred”.

Pinnick added that he is constantly humiliated and ridiculed by the “institutions that are meant to protect”.

“I love this country but the issue of hate and bitterness. Institutions that are meant to protect you are the ones opening you up for humiliation, ridicule and possible annihilation,” he said.

“There are 7.7 billion people in the world but there are only 37 people in FIFA and a Nigerian is one of them. It is good enough for us, but some people want that flag to be removed. I’m not against criticism.

“A lot of Nigerians have called about my third term bid. They said, ‘Pinnick, we are building this country and you must be an integral part of it.’ But I said listen, ‘I love Nigeria but my family is key and number one’. Every time, I’m having issues, my family is tired.

“For now, I said ‘no’ and I still stand by it because you don’t want to go to a terrain where bitterness, hatred, and animosity are, for no reason other than the fact that it is Amaju Pinnick. If you ask any of the haters what has Pinnick done wrong; if they tell me today I will resign.”

Allegations of corruption, lack of transparency and accountability have dogged the NFF in recent years.

Pinnick has come under intense scrutiny over his handling of the affairs of the NFF, with his critics accusing him of misusing the funds of the football body.

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World Cup: Falconets Beat South Korea, Seal Quarter-Final Spot

World Cup: Falconets Beat South Korea, Seal Quarter-Final Spot

The Falconets beat South Korea early Monday at the U-20 Women’s World Cup to seal a quarter-final spot in the competition.

Esther Onyenezide scored a screamer in the 83rd minute to give Nigeria the 1-0 win, sealing her side’s spot in the last eight.

The Group C encounter was heading to a barren draw but Onyenezide, who has been impeccable in the midfield for Nigeria, collected the ball nicely and drove a powerful shot past the Korean keeper Kim Kyeong-Hee in what would be a goal-of-the-tournament contender.

Coach Chris Danjuma’s side earlier had a chance to take the lead in the first few minutes of the game but Basirat Amoo’s freekick did not trouble the Korean goalie.

Although the Asians would have also scored, efforts from  Lee Soo-In and Garam Chun failed to beat the Nigerian goalkeeper.

When the second half began, both sides made frantic efforts to score. Once more, the Nigerian goalkeeper Oyono Omini was in fine form and made some spectacular saves to keep her side in the match. One such save was around the 64th minute when she nicely parried away a shot destined for the top right corner.

But with about seven minutes left to play Onyenezide conjoured a screamer that eventually sent the 2014 runners-up to the last eight of the competition in Costa Rica.

Having won their first two games, Nigeria’s next match against Canada will afford Coach Danjuma the chance to rest some key players and also give others an opportunity to test the action.

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