The world Awaits New World Women’s Football Champion, On Sunday.

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The world football community is waiting for the next 40 hours or so to know the new world female football Queens of the world. Something unique is that we are expecting a new champion for the world as previous champions, four times winner USA; two times winner, Germany; Japan and Norway that won one time each have been exited in this tournament.

It is tougher to predict although football pundits are already hailing England as new champions because of their loaded team set up with a highly tactical coach but the scored goals of Spain with the currently highest of 15 goals and England with 13 goals is something not significant or convincing.

Red carded Lauren James sent off for misdemeanor against Nigerian Defender will be back and that gives England more advantage because James is the only standing highest assist giving player with three assists. She holds it with Kadidiatou Diani of France and Mina Tanako of Japan.

As at the last game of the semifinal, 62 games were played with 161 goals scored which is 2.6 goals per match with 1,853,029 crowd record which is averagely 129,888 fans watching each match.

The current highest scorer of 5 goals, Hinatu Miyazawa of Japan may lose the opportunity of adorning the Golden Boot for Highest Scorer if Amanda Ilestedt of Sweden gets a brace against hosts Australia on Saturday at 0900 hours. Amanda shares 4 goals each with Kadidiatou Diani of France; Alexandra Popp of Germany and Jill Roord of Netherlands.

Four players bagged straight red cards at the tournament namely Deborah Abiodun of Nigeria; Zhang Rui of China, Sofia Harrison of Philippines and Lauren James of England. A total 7 players had two yellows each in the tournament namely; Catherine Musonda of Zambia; Miriam Mayorgo of Argentina; Kholosa Biyana of South Africa; Rose Lavelle of USA; Manuela Vanegas of Columbia; Danielle Van de Donk of Netherlands and Oihane Hernandez of Spain. The two yellow cards translated to suspension for next match.

A total of 106 yellow cards were flashed so far at the tournament with a remarkable record of no single yellow to China in three matches whereas Columbia had the highest of 7 cards. Four teams had 6 yellows each namely: Jamaica; Portugal; USA and Argentina which means they will along with the nations with red cards not win the FAIR PLAY TROPHY. England had 5 yellows where South Africa got 4 along each with France, Canada, hosts Australia and Costa Rica. Nigeria had three yellow cards.

Of the eight debutant nations at this world cup, only Morocco advanced to the Round of 16. Zambia was 3rd in Group C; Philippines was 4th in group A; Ireland was 4th in Group B; Haiti was 4th in Group D; Portugal was 3rd in Group E; Vietnam was 4th in Group E and Panama was 4thin Group F.

As at the end of the semifinals, the ranking at the tournament are as follows; 5th Japan; 6th France; 7th Netherlands; 8th Columbia; 9th USA; 10th Nigeria; 11th Denmark; 12th Morocco; 13th Jamaica; 14th Switzerland; 15th Norway; 16th South Africa; 17th Germany; 18th Brazil; 19th Portugal; 20th New Zealand; 21st Canada; 22nd Italy; 23rd China; 24th Philippines; 25th Zambia; 26th Ireland; 27th Argentina; 28th Korea; 29th Haiti; 30th Costa Rica; 31st Panama and 32nd Vietnam.

Spain will slug it out with England for the coveted trophy on Sunday at 1100 hours in the epic final after the formalities of the CLOSING CEREMONIES. That will feature Australian Singers, Jessica Mauboy, Tones and I, Havana Brown, Bernard Fanning, Delta Goodman, Baker Boy, and the Australian Girls’ Choir.

Making special appearances are Japanese Pianist, Nobuyuki Tsuji; New Zealand Singer Kimbra; American Rapper Bia and French-Senegalese Singer Diarra Sylla. Nigeria’s Davido who featured at the opening ceremony will not be at the closing ceremonies.

There were incidents and memorable moments at the 2023 women’s world cup. The United Nations Women hoisted partnership with FIFA “to celebrate the skills and achievements of teams and players, to advance gender equality in football and to prevent abuse and discrimination on and off field.’

One of the controversies of this tournament was the disputes between players and their respective Football Associations over professionalism, collective bargaining and developments. Not paying players due allowances, I report was on the upper card of discussions between the Nigerian Football Federation and the National Legislative Body as the matter caused a ricochet into the Nigerian space over unpaid or tampered with allowances over the years. After the jaw jaw, NFF promised to pay ‘appropriately’ whenever FIFA released a promised allowance but NFF was silent over the budgeted and released allowance for the team before the world cup.

There were shootings in Auckland on the day of the opening ceremonies, the morning of July 20 where a gun trotting man killed several people in Auckland. It took place near the hotel where Norway and New Zealand stayed. The Italian team was prevented by the Police from going for their training for security reasons.

By Eniola Olatunji

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