• Morocco know fate today

Super Falcons will resume training today ahead of their round of 16 clash with England at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

After their 0-0 draw with Republic of Ireland, which cemented their place in the round of 16 as Group B’s second placed team behind Australia, the coaches gave the girls two days off to recuperate before preparations for the quarterfinal clash with England begin today.

According to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the players used opportunity presented by the two-day break to stretch their legs and see a few places of interest close to their hotel.

The training sessions will resume at the Lions FC Stadium in Brisbane, ahead of the clash with England on Monday.

Nigeria and England have clashed thrice previously at senior women international level, with the Falcons winning two of the three matches.

Meanwhile, the Banyana Banyana of South Africa became the second African team to qualify for the round of 16 when they defeated Italy 3-2 yesterday.

South Africa had to beat eighth-ranked Italy to progress. A draw would have been enough to take Italy through. And in a turbulent final 20 minutes, both teams stood on the brink of qualifying.

The halftime score was 1-1 after Arianna Caruso’s penalty and Benedetta Orsi’s own goal. Magaia scored to put South Africa ahead 2-1 and left them on the brink of history, before Caruso equalised from a Cristiana Girelli corner.

At last, in the second minute of stoppage time, Magaia provided the assist for Themba Kgatlana’s match-winner and South Africa was through in a moment of huge significance for women’s sport in their country.

“They call me the breadwinner. So without the breadwinner, there’s no bread,” Magaia said. “I had to provide the bread for the nation.”

“This really means a lot,” she added, “especially knowing that we were so close to going home. It is an emotional one.”

Magaia’s comment carried literal force. In advancing to the last 16, each South Africa player will take home at least $60,000, a life-altering sum. Magaia said she now would be able to properly care for her mother.

A dispute over pay that clouded South Africa’s preparation and only was resolved on the eve of the world tournament, now is well in the background, one of many trials the team had to overcome to get to the World Cup.

South Africa qualified second out of Group G behind Sweden, which beat Argentina 2-0 in its last match and will face the United States in the next round. The South Africans will face the Netherlands on Sunday.

In Group F, France lay in top spot with seven points, while Jamaica placed second with five points. Both teams joined the last 16 nations in the competition.

Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Nigeria, Japan, Spain, England, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the US are other teams to reach the round of 16 in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Today, Morocco will take on Colombia, while South Korea will face Germany in Group H, to grab the last two tickets in the round of 16


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