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WWC: England Star James Banned For Two Games For Stamping Falcons’ Alozie

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Lionesses star Lauren James has been banned by the Federation International Football Association for two games but could return for the Women’s World Cup final after being awarded a red card for stamping on Michelle Alozie in England’s win over Nigeria, Daily Mail reports on Thursday.

James who is among the stars of the tournament and a key player of coach Sarina Weigman’s team was sent off in the last-16 clash after she stylishly stamped on her colleague during the football match.

James pressed Alozie’s back down and stamped her when the Nigerian player was lying on the ground after a challenge in the 87th minute of the game which ended in penalty play.

After consulting the video assistant referee over the foul play, James was shown a red card having initially been given a yellow. Red card offences would lead to a one-game ban, but FIFA has the capacity to extend the suspension if they see fit.

FIFA disciplinary committee exercised their right and handed out three-game bans for violent conduct but James has escaped a punishment that would have ruled her out of the rest of the tournament.

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Football

Super Falcons Forward, Oparanozie, Retires At 29

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Nigeria’s Super Falcons forward Desire Ugochi Oparanozie has announced her retirement from football for both country and club at the age of 29.

Oparanozie was included in the squad that represented Nigeria at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which started in July and ended in August.

In a post on Wednesday, on her X account, formerly Twitter, she wrote, “To my fans, family, and friends, thank you for the show of love and support over the years. It’s time to take a bow, as I believe there’s no better time than now. I’m officially announcing my retirement from professional football for both club and country.

Okpara Nozie

“To every team and coach I have played for, to every mate I’ve played alongside, and to every opponent I have played against, thank you all for being part of this incredible journey. Thank you football, thank you Nigeria.”

Oparanozie had a successful career in the Chinese Women’s Super League and represented Nigeria’s national team on different occasions.

She started at Bayelsa Queens and later played for Delta Queens and Düvenciler Lisesispor.

Okpara Nozie

In 2012, Oparanozie transferred to Rossiyanka in the Russian Women’s Football Championship. She had a successful stint there, playing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and scoring a goal. After that, she moved to VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga for the 2013-14 season.

Punch

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2012 Final My Best-Ever Game For Chelsea –Mikel Obi

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Former Chelsea and Super Eagles legend, John Obi Mikel has revealed that the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich was his best game for the club.

The 36-year-old recently featured for the club in a charity game for former Italian manager Gianluca Vialli against Bayern Munich legends at Stamford Bridge.

After the game, Mikel told the club’s website he should have won the man of the match award as the Blues lifted their first UCL trophy in Munich.

He said, ‘My best-ever game,’ referring to the final 11 years ago.

“I should have won the man of the match but Didier obviously came good and saved the day. I’ve watched that game a few times since.”

Mikel also said it was nice to be back playing with some of the guys he lifted the trophy with.

His words: “Popping the ball around, seeing JT and Petr behind us, it just brings back memories. Having Michael Essien in the middle with me, it was a joy tonight.

“I thought the game was really good, we played really well and got the goals. Bayern also had a few moments when they had a bit of a chance but we are Chelsea and when you play at home, you always want to win. That mentality is always there.”

Vanguard

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Neymar Beats Pele’s Record To Become Brazil’s All-Time Top Scorer

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Neymar surpassed Pele as Brazil’s all-time top scorer with two second-half goals in a 5-1 win over Bolivia in South America’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers on Friday.

The 31-year-old striker went into the game level with Pele on 77 goals and had a golden opportunity to break the record in the 17th minute when Brazil were awarded a penalty.

But he looked distraught after his soft spot-kick was easily saved by Bolivia keeper Guillermo Viscarra to keep the scores goalless.

Seven minutes later, Brazil got in front when Rodrygo reacted quickly to slot home after a shot from Raphinha was parried out by Viscarra.

Brazil doubled their lead just after the break when Raphinha cut in from the left and his low shot took a slight deflection as it flew into the bottom corner.

Neymar had a hand in Brazil’s third, with a clever chipped pass that was flicked on by Bruno Guimaraes into the path of Rodrygo who confidently drilled home.

Then came Neymar’s moment to enter the history books as he pounced on a loose ball inside the box and tucked away his 78th goal in his 125th game for his country – raising his hands and his gaze to the skies.

Victor Abrego pulled a goal back for Bolivia, bustling through a disorganized Brazil backline before blasting an unstoppable shot past Ederson.

But there was still time for Neymar to extend his record tally, connecting with a low ball from Raphinha in stoppage time to complete the victory and a memorable night for the forward.

The 31-year-old former Barcelona striker recently moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal.

Pele, who died in December aged 82, scored 77 goals for Brazil in 92 appearances between 1957 and 1971.

The win was the perfect start for new coach Fernando Diniz, who took over from predecessor Tite in the wake of the Selecao’s World Cup quarter-final exit last year.

Diniz paid tribute to Neymar, whose role in the squad has been under scrutiny.

“Many did not know what he would come to do, and he came to do what he did: have fun, score two goals and break the record,” he said.

“He is a very big idol, people must recognize him and accept him,” he added.

– Uruguay turn on style –

In Friday’s other game, Uruguay turned on the style, under new coach Marcelo Bielsa, as they beat Chile 3-1.

Argentine Bielsa, who had previously coached Chile between 2007 and 2011, opted for a youthful line-up without veteran strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.

Bielsa was rewarded with an entertaining display from his new charges with River Plate attacking midfielder Nicolas de la Cruz scoring twice.

De la Cruz opened the scoring with a fine left-foot strike in the 38th minute before Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time.

De la Cruz broke down the left before switching to Valverde, who made space before burying a shot into the far bottom corner.

The third goal, in the 71st minute, came after a fast break down the left with Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez pulling the ball back into the path of De la Cruz who made no mistake from close range.

Chile pulled a goal back three minutes later with Arturo Vidal scrambling the ball home after a Diego Valdes header came out off the bar.

Bielsa was delighted with the display from his new charges.

“I like the style of the Uruguayan players,” he said, “The style of play is imposed by individuals not the coach. The first ten minutes were not good but then we progressively generated goal opportunities and wore down the opponent,” he added.

The qualification process for the expanded 48-team World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, offers two extra places for South America with six teams qualifying directly.

The seventh out of the 10 nations will head to an inter-continental play-off.

The opening games on Thursday saw Argentina beat Ecuador 1-0 with a goal from Lionel Messi while Peru drew 0-0 at Paraguay and Colombia beat Venezuela 1-0.

AFP

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