Paris, June 26 (AP/UNB) — It wasn’t just the fans who were looking forward to a quarterfinal clash between France and the defending champion United States at the Women’s World Cup. Megan Rapinoe clearly was, too.
“I hope it’s huge and crazy. That’s what it should be,” Rapinoe said just after the match was set. “This is the best game, this is what everybody wanted. I think we wanted it, seems like they’re up for it, you guys are of course are up for it, and all the fans.”
While the players said the focus for the United States was always on one game at a time, Rapinoe voiced the underlying truth about the match in Paris on Friday: It was circled on everyone’s World Cup calendar since December’s draw.
“It’s going to be totally awesome. This is what everybody wants. And these are the biggest games that you kind of dream about as a kid,” Rapinoe said.
The United States advanced with a physically challenging win over Spain in the round of 16, while France scored in extra time to get past resilient Brazil.
The top-ranked U.S. team breezed through its group stage at the World Cup, pouncing on Thailand 13-0 before more balanced victories over Chile and rival Sweden. But Spain posed a challenge to the three-time champions, relentlessly targeting Alex Morgan and using brawn to counter the Americans’ superior speed.
Rapinoe scored on a pair of penalty kicks for the 2-1 victory in Reims on Monday night, although the game-winner in the 75th minute was the result of what many thought was at best minimal contact between Spain’s Virginia Torrecilla and Rose Lavelle. The foul was confirmed after video review.
Lavelle insisted afterward: “I didn’t flop.”
Players said the difficult match was crucial to the team’s preparation going into the quarterfinal against the fourth-ranked French, the first time the U.S. has faced the host in a World Cup. The Americans could also face No. 3 England if they go through to the semifinals.
“I think this game was extremely important to us, looking forward to France,” Morgan said. “It was a very challenging game and it showed a little bit of what we might see in France, so this was an important stepping stone for us looking forward.”
France also got a tough test out of the way.
Les Bleues finished atop their group with three wins before surviving their knockout opener. Captain Amandine Henry redirected Amel Majri’s free kick for a tiebreaking goal in the 107th minute of a 2-1 victory Sunday night in Le Havre. Valérie Gauvin, whose first-half goal was disallowed in a video review, put France ahead early in the second but Thaisa tied the score 11 minutes later for No. 10 Brazil.
Afterward, French coach Corinne Diacre was critical of her team, saying, “We weren’t at our best.”
“Obviously, I know my players inside out. I know that we weren’t 100 percent today and the objective is to hit that 100 percent for the next game,” Diacre said through a translator. “Will this happen? I don’t know. I don’t have a magic wand. I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t see into the future. But it’s something that we’re working on.”
The Americans have played the French 23 times, with France winning just three. But one of those was a friendly in January, when Kadidiatou Diani — who wasn’t named to France’s World Cup roster — scored twice in a 3-1 victory.
The match Friday, while great for the sport, also means one of the favorites will be headed home on Saturday. A lopsided draw put three of the world’s top teams on one side of the bracket, while No. 2 Germany tops the other.
The Germans, two-time World Cup winners, won their knockout round opener 3-0 against No. 38 Nigeria, setting up a quarterfinal Saturday against No. 9 Sweden in Rennes. The Swedes knocked Canada out of the tournament with a 1-0 victory on Monday night.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis acknowledged the final-in-the-quarterfinals feel to Friday’s match.
“I truly believe this is the world game for women, and so what a showcase piece. I’m sure a lot of people would like it later in the tournament, but it is what it is,” Ellis said. “Myself and probably Corinne are both like, ‘We’ve got good players, good teams and good setups, so let’s go for it.’”
São Paulo, June 25 (AP/UNB) — The group stage of the Copa America ended with Brazil and Uruguay still the favorites and Argentina still unable to meet expectations.
Colombia also impressed early on, finishing with a perfect record and without conceding any goals, while two-time defending champion Chile stuttered after a good start.
The quarterfinals of the South American competition begin Thursday with host Brazil taking on old foe Paraguay in Porto Alegre, and a day later in Rio de Janeiro it will be Argentina facing a Venezuela team it has struggled against recently.
Also Friday, Colombia plays Chile in São Paulo, and on Saturday Uruguay's attacking duo of Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani will face Peru in Salvador.
Here's a closer look at the Copa America quarterfinals this week:
Brazil got off to a slow start, being booed by the local crowd in its first two matches, but the 5-0 rout of Peru eased the pressure on coach Tite and boosted the team's confidence entering the knockout stage.
Paraguay barely survived the first round, advancing with only two points as one of the best third-place finishers from the three groups. But it played better than the results showed, letting victory escape against Argentina only because of a missed penalty kick in the second half.
Brazil easily beat Paraguay the last time the teams met — in a World Cup qualifier two years ago. But it was Paraguay that eliminated Brazil the last two times the "Seleção" made it to the Copa America quarterfinals, in 2011 and 2015. Paraguay came out on top in penalty shootouts both times.
"It will be a difficult match, we will need to be very focused," Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho said. "But the team is full of confidence, things are going well for us right now."
Argentina would normally be favored against Venezuela, but this time there is reason for concern for Lionel Messi and his teammates.
While Argentina continues to struggle and just escaped elimination in the group stage, Venezuela enters the quarterfinals carrying good momentum.
"We will have to play better against Venezuela," Messi said. "It's a team with very clear ideas in attack, with very quick players."
Venezuela, which held Brazil to a 0-0 draw in the group stage, defeated Argentina 3-1 in a friendly in Madrid in March. It drew its previous two matches with the Argentines, both in qualifying for the last World Cup.
After losing the last two Copa America finals, Argentina remains on a quest to end a 26-year title drought with the senior squad.
Chile's title defense will go through a red-hot Colombia, the only team to win all of its matches and not concede any goals.
James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao will be taking on Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas, two of Chile's leaders in the title-winning campaigns of 2015 and 2016.
The Chileans couldn't avoid the Colombians because it lost to Uruguay 1-0 in the final group game, when midfielder Arturo Vidal was among those rested by coach Reinaldo Rueda, a Colombian.
Colombia is led by Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, and is seeking its first South American title since 2001.
With Suárez and Cavani thriving, Uruguay will be favored against a Peruvian squad coming off a demoralizing loss to Brazil that prompted a wave of criticism against Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca.
Peru's defense is the worst among the teams in the quarterfinals, with six goals conceded in three matches. Uruguay has the second-best attack with eight goals, one less than Brazil.
Cavani and Suárez have already scored two goals each for Uruguay, while Peru striker Paolo Guerrero has only one.
Uruguay is the Copa America's most successful team with 15 titles, one more than Argentina. Uruguay's last continental title was in 2011.
Dhaka, June 25 (UNB) – Narayanganj District reached the zonal final of the BFF-UNICEF U-16 National Women’s Football Championship eliminating Tangail District by 3-1 goals in the tie breaker at the Rafiq Uddin Bhuiyan Stadium in Mymensingh on Tuesday.
In the scheduled time, Kanon scored for Narayanganj in the 8th minute while Selina restored the parity for Tangail scoring the equalizer in the 67th minute.
Earlier, the 2nd semifinal match between two teams was locked in 1-1 goals in the stipulated period that forced the match towards tie breaking session.
Dhaka, Jun 25 (UNB)— Table toppers Dhaka Abahani Limited will face Indian team Minerva Punjab in their last Group E match to qualify for the next round of AFC Cup 2019.
The match will take place at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday at 4:30pm (BdST).
Six-time Bangladesh Professional Football League champions Abahani will create history if they reach the next round.
Abahani also have a fair chance to be the group champions after a draw with Minerva Punjab as they have upper hand in points, goal difference and scoring higher number of goals than that of their main contender Chennaiyin FC.
Former Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC will play Nepalese champions Manang Marshyangdi Club in their last group match on Wednesday at the ANFA Complex in Kathmandu.
Abahani topped the Group E list with 10 points from five matches with three wins, one draw and one loss and a better goal difference (11-5=6). Channaiyin FC were in the 2nd slot with eight points from five matches with two wins, two draws and one loss with a goal difference of (6-4=2).
Indian I-League champions Minerva Punjab remained at the 3rd slot securing five points from as many matches with five draws while win-less Manang Marshyangdi Club remained at the bottom in the four-team group with two points from five matches with two draws.
In their last match, Abahani crushed Manang Marshyangdi by 5-0 goals at Bangabandhu National Stadium while Minerva Punjab played to 1-1 draw with Chennaiyin FC at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on June 19.
Dhaka Abahani have brought some changes in their strategy for the last group match as the participation of their Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba and Brazilian midfielder Wellington Priori become uncertain.
Sunday is repeatedly facing Indian visa problem for his Nigerian passport and failed to accompany his team to India, alongside the injury problem of midfielder Priori.
Abahani Manager Satyajit Das Rupu on Tuesday said that if Sunday gets visa by Tuesday night then he will fly to India before the match.s
“We’re making some changes. If Sunday misses Wednesday’s game, then Saad Uddin will play in his position and Wali Faisal will fill up Saad’s position,” he added.
Dhaka Abahani started their AFC Cup campaign beating Manang Marshyangdi Club by 1-0 goal in their first match in Kathmandu on April 3, but played to 2-2 draw with Minerva Punjab in their second match in Dhaka on April 17.
In their third match, the Dhanmondi-based outfit conceded a 0-1 defeat against Chennaiyin FC at the Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad on April 30, but they defeated Chennaiyin FC by 3-2 goals at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on June 15 to keep their hope for becoming the AFC Cup 2019 Group E champions alive.
On the other hand, Minerva Punjab started their AFC Cup campaign playing to 0-0 draw with compatriots Chennaiyin FC in their first match in Ahmedabad on April 3.
After their second draw (2-2) with hosts Dhaka Abahani Limited in Dhaka on April 17, Punjab again played to 2-2 draw with Manang Marshyangdi Club at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on April 30.
They became upset in their fourth match in Kathmandu on June 15 while Manang Marshyangdi forced them to a 1-1 draw with a late equaliser.
Standings of the Group E of the AFC Cup’ 2019 (Tabulating under match played, win, draw, loss, goal for/goal against and points):
Teams MP W D L GF GA GD P
Abahani Limited (BAN) 5 3 1 1 11 5 6 10
Chennaiyin FC (IND) 5 2 2 1 6 4 2 8
Minerva Punjab (IND) 5 0 5 0 6 6 0 5
Manang Marshyangdi (NEP) 5 0 2 3 3 11 -8 2
Dhaka, June 25 (UNB) - Liverpool are interested in signing PEC Zwolle's teenage centre-back Sepp van den Berg but face competition from Ajax, Bayern Munich and PSV Eindhoven, reports BBC
Sampdoria were also interested in the 17-year-old and the next 72 hours could be crucial to the Reds signing the Netherlands Under-19 international.
Van den Berg made 15 appearances for PEC Zwolle in the Dutch top flight last season.
He would be Liverpool's first signing of the summer if he joins.
The Reds compare Van den Berg to being at about the same level as Joe Gomez when they signed the defender for £3.5m from Charlton in June 2015.
England international Gomez was a key part of Liverpool's defence last season before injury curtailed his season.
The Anfield club see Van den Berg as a player for the long term and, although there is a belief he could be with the first team from day one, the focus initially would be on his development and integration.