It has been a World cup of shocks and surprises.
Three of the top 10 teams from the FIFA world rankings are out in the group stages while the width of a post stopped defending champions, the USA, from suffering the same fate.
Germany, ranked second, have failed to progress past the group stages for the first time in their ninth appearance at the tournament.
Canada and Brazil, ranked seventh and eighth respectively, have also had their World Cup journey cut short. Milena Bertolini’s Italy were another big side to fall at the first hurdle, losing multiple group-stage games for the first time.
While some of the big hitters and tournament favourites are heading home, Colombia, South Africa, Jamaica, Morocco and Nigeria are taking their places.
“Development is fast in women’s football at the moment,” said Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall.
“There’s no standing still. We see that with USA, we see that with Germany, we saw that with Brazil as well.
“Other nations are moving fast here now.”
Germany, Canada, Brazil and Italy are all out in the group stages, something that would have been unthinkable before the tournament began.
Two-time World Cup winners Germany started the tournament in style by thrashing Morocco 6-0 and were tipped by many to win it again after that display.
They were brought crashing back down to earth after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Colombia and their position in the tournament was under threat.
Germany’s final group opponents were South Korea. Cho So-hyun opened the scoring for South Korea after six minutes and, while captain Alexandra Popp equalised for the Germans, the draw was not enough and Morocco went through at their expense.
After reaching the European Championships final last year, Germany were expected to go deep in this tournament and potentially challenge the USA for a third World cup title. Despite Popp’s best efforts, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side headed home.
After reaching the last 16 of the World Cup in 2019, Canada became Olympic champions two years later.
However, they were drawn in the so-called ‘group of death’ and duly failed to survive. Group B contained Australia, Nigeria and Republic of Ireland with most predicting co-hosts Australia and Canada would progress. Bev Priestman’s side followed up a goalless draw against Nigeria with a win against Republic of Ireland.
Going into the last group game, Canada had to beat Australia to advance but lost 4-0 after being thoroughly dismantled by the co-hosts and suffered their first group-stage exit since 2011.
The team is one of several at the World Cup who have been unsettled by disputes with their federation over budget cuts and a lack of competitive warm-up matches prior to the tournament.
Marta’s last World Cup ended in huge disappointment as Brazil failed to progress to the last-16 stage. They had progressed from the group stages six times in a row and were being tipped as an outside bet to win the tournament.
Brazil won their first game 4-0 against Panama with typical South American flair but Pia Sundhage was unable to replicate that in the next two games.
They lost 2-1 to France and then endured a goalless draw with Jamaica when just one goal would have been enough to see them through.
In 2019, Italy returned to the World Cup after a 20-year absence and made the knockout stages.
This time around, Milena Bertolini controversially left former captain Sara Gama out of her squad and star forward Cristiana Girelli did not start any of the group matches, despite scoring the only goal in Italy’s opening game against Argentina.
A 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Sweden left Italy in a perilous position going into their final game with at least a draw needed against South Africa to secure their passage to the next phase.
Ranked 16th, they were knocked out by South Africa who are outside the top 50 in 54th. Banyana Banyana beat them 3-2 with Thembi Kgatlana’s stoppage-time winner sealing their passage through to the last 16 at Italy’s expense.
Could 2023 be the year that an underdog team upsets the status quo?
The underdogs have certainly made their mark so far, with three teams outside the world’s top 40 making the last 16.
By: Marissa Thomas & Emily Salley
LG Football Councils Appoint Chairman, Secretary
Rivers State Local Government Football Councils(RSLGC), has appointed the Chairman of Gokana Football Council, Martins Giadom as it’s Coordinator and Chinasa Elekwachi of the Onelga FC as Secretary.
In a meeting held in Port Harcourt last week, the 23 Football Councils in Rivers State agreed that the election of Martins Giadom and Chinasa Elekwachi as Chairman and Secretary, respectively will serve as a clearing house for a formidable grassroot sports development to support the good works of the State FA Board led by Barr. Christopher Green.
The LG FCs resolved to be proactive in their dealings with the Executive Chairmen of Council such that their impact will be felt as partners in progress
The LG Football Councils further agreed to regularly present major issues and challenges before the State FA Board for consideration.
It called for the resuscitation of the moribund Rivers State Governor’s Cup, urging relevant authorities to take action on the matter in the interest of football development in Rivers State.
The body stressed the need for all LGA FCs to be encouraged to run Football related activities within their jurisdiction, report and restrain non stakeholders from setting up political football committees who will further usurp the duties of LG Football Councils at the various Local Council Areas in the State.
Navy To Sponsor Team In NPL
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Eastern Naval Command, Olusola Oluwagbire, has disclosed plans by the Navy to sponsor a football team in the Nigeria Football League.
Oluwagbire said this at the opening of the maiden edition of FOC Eastern Naval Command Intra-Command football competition in Calabar at the weekend.
Oluwagbire said the essence of the competition was to re-engineer the physical fitness and inspire a sense of comradeship in the personnel.
“This competition is to bring together officers, civilian staff and corps members with us together to re-engineer their physical fitness.
“It is also aimed at strengthening the relationship among the personnel and also to maintain their mental alertness.
“It has been long in coming and we are thankful that we finally got it off today,” he stated.
Oluwagbire who was elated with the turnout of teams for the competition, said it would be sustained.
In a remark, the Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, Elvert Ayambem, called for the sustainability of the competition, adding that the state governments have plans to revive sports.
More Nigerian Wrestlers Will Qualify For Olympics –Comptroller General
The acting Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Adewale Adeniyi, has expressed optimism that more Nigerian wrestlers will qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
He stated this on Saturday in Abuja after the inauguration of the ‘Work-Life Balance’ initiative which is a routine 5km brisk walk exercise meant to keep officers and men of the NCS physically and mentally fit.
Adeniyi who is also a board member of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) said this against the backdrop of only one Nigerian female wrestler securing Olympic qualification in the just concluded World Wrestling Championships in Serbia.
The tude source reports that only three-time Commonwealth Champion, Odunayo Adekuoroye, secured a bronze medal in the women’s 57kg category at the just concluded Championship, to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics Games.
Team Nigeria was represented by six female wrestlers at the championships.
The customs boss however maintains there is no cause for alarm, as there are still two more pre-Olympics qualifiers, where he hopes more Nigerian male and female wrestlers will qualify.
“I am not disappointed with the performance of the wrestling team in Serbia.
“The competition in Serbia is one of the various competitions lined-up to get slots at the Paris Olympics, there are still one or two championships.
“I am very sure there will be one (championships) in March in Egypt and those of our athletes who did not get the ticket, would have the opportunity to do so,” he said.
Adeniyi said with the quality of wrestlers in camp and the continued training and exposure being given to them, the sky is the limit.
“What we had in Serbia was just our women team, we also have our men in camp and they are in top condition.
“I believe our male and female teams stand a very chance with the level of preparation and exposure we are going to give them ahead of the outing in March,” he said.
On the ‘Work-Life Balance’ initiative, the Customs CG expressed optimism that the initiative will lead to better wellbeing and productivity for officers and men of the NCS.
The theme for the Saturday’s Walk/ exercise is: “balancing for better tomorrow “ and it had participants from other para-military agencies.
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