Women’s World Cup Day 3 — Has Africa arrived?

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Heading into Monday’s action, the continent of Africa was 4-25-3 in World Cup play, the last two of those victories (including Nigeria beating Canada in 2011) coming after both teams involved in the match had already been eliminated.

The reasons for the slow growth of African women’s soccer has to do with some of the socioeconomic and cultural reasons I mentioned Sunday. And if it has been difficult for men’s teams from Africa to find their footing on the world stage, you can imagine how hard it is to get funding, respect, common decency, etc., for their women’s teams.

[RESULTS: Japan edges Switzerland  |  Cameroon routs Ecuador]

But, if history has taught us anything, it’s that talent finds a way to shine through barriers. Yes, Nigeria did not advance in 2011, but they only conceded two goals in the tournament, while Equatorial Guinea and Genoveva (Ayo) Anonma went home 0-3, but certainly not outclassed the way African teams had been in the past.

Perhaps you can write down Monday, June 8, 2015, as the date when African women’s soccer finally arrived on the world stage. For the first time in 16 years, the continent got four points in a World Cup, and not only did Cameroon and Nigeria do it within hours of each other, they did it impressively. Admittedly, Ecuador was poor and eventually down to 10 women, but Cameroon was rampant almost from the opening kickoff in a 6-0 rout (no other African victory at the World Cup had ever been by more than two goals).

[KASSOUF: USA gets by Australia  |  Solo saves the day  |  Room to improve]

Meanwhile, Nigeria came from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Sweden, but – despite the reaction of the world as the result being a surprise – likely deserved all three, recording more possession, twice as many shots, and much better chances with a front four of Asisat Oshoala, Ngozi Okobi, Francisca Ordega (of the NWSL’s Spirit), and Desire Oparanozie making Sweden look ordinary. And “ordinary” is being generous.

In 1999, Nigeria beat North Korea and Denmark and came from three goals down against Brazil in the quarterfinals only to have Sissi win it in overtime on a golden goal. Had Nigeria won that game, it would have played the U.S. in the semifinals. So somewhere Mercy Akide (now coaching in Virginia and married to Nigerian sportswriter Colin Udoh) and the other foremothers of the current African generation had big smiles Monday night.

There’s obviously much of the tournament to go, but Cameroon has likely qualified for the second round already with 3 points and its goal differential. Nigeria would have liked 3 points with the U.S. and Australia remaining, but will be far from a pushover for either. And don’t be shocked if the Ivory Coast – who actually looked decent going forward against Germany – finds a way to beat Thailand and join them in the knockout stages.

What else did we learn Monday?

1) Asisat Oshoala might be a household name soon

She doesn’t turn 21 until October, but has already been the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year thanks to her dominance at Liverpool and was voted the best player in Africa last season after winning the Golden Boot at the 2014 U-20 World Cup as Nigeria lost to Germany in extra time in the final. She has pace, strength, size, and skill, and Sweden had no answer for her. Ngozi Okobi may also get some looks from Europe if she continues to torture defenses like she did Monday.

2) However, Nigeria does have a goalkeeping issue

Precious Dede has played for Nigeria in almost every big match they have played since 2003, but shaky doesn’t begin to describe how she looked in the first half against Sweden set pieces (of which they scored on two corners). Edwin Okon does have 23-year-old Ibubeleye Whyte as a back-up and she did post a clean sheet in the African finals last year (against Cameroon). However, she only has six career caps, and it would be asking a lot to put her up against the Abby Wambachs of the world in the air. But Nigeria has to figure that out or all their hard work and young skill won’t help them advance.

3) Meanwhile, Sweden has a defense problem

Pia Sundhage was so scared by Nigeria’s speed that she replaced BOTH center backs (Nilla Fischer and Emma Berglund) while leading in the second half. It didn’t work. Replacement Linda Sembrant (who also scored Sweden’s third goal) stepped way too early, allowing Ordega to tie the game in the 87th minute. Sweden allowed only one goal in 10 games of UEFA qualifying, but that is deceiving because they were in a turrible (as Charles Barkley would say) group, and one certainly devoid of the speed they saw Monday (with apologies to Scotland’s Jane Ross). With the U.S. and Australia coming up, things won’t get easier on that front, so Pia will have to do something, or Sweden could be facing an extremely embarrassing first-round exit if they’re not careful.

4) Gaelle Enganamouit may not be too far behind Asisat Oshoala

The 23-year-old who plays in Sweden looked the part of a world-class striker in picking up her hat trick, even if the competition was dreadful (if I had another bullet point, I could muse about how far South America has fallen behind Africa in women’s soccer because the gap looked pretty significant on Monday, and no team from South America other than Brazil has ever won a match at the World Cup). Japan and Switzerland both looked very good in their opener on Monday and both will pose many more problems for their defense, but it would be surprising to see them get beaten as badly as they beat Ecuador Monday.

5) You can’t qualify for the World Cup from Europe anymore if you’re not good

This may be Switzerland’s first World Cup (and they’ve never even qualified for the Euros), but their roster is loaded with players from the top European leagues (including 11 from the Bundesliga). Rightfully so, Ramona Bachmann will get a lot of the press after Monday’s game (and boy does she wish she has that chance in stoppage time back), it’s great to see her finally healthy and that obviously makes the Swiss a much tougher out in this tournament. But veterans Martina Moser and Vanessa Bernauer (both of whom play in Germany) more than held their own in the middle against the defending world champs. Alas, they got no points for their troubles, but given the weak group they’re in, there is reason to take a lot of positives out of the 1-0 loss.

Mourinho comments after leaving Dele Alli out amidst PSG links

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Tottenham Hotspur scored five times in Sunday’s win over Southampton, but Jose Mourinho’s comments after leaving Dele Alli out of the team will have elicited plenty of buzz.

So will rumors that Paris Saint-Germain is among the clubs seeking the English attacker’s signature.

[ RECAP: Southampton 2-5 Spurs ]

Saying “I want a balanced squad” and that he has too many forwards to dress right now — yes, even before Gareth Bale suits up — Mourinho explained his thoughts on the forward.

From Football.London:

“I’m not responsible for the market. I’m not able to answer your question on that. I can only say I left eight players behind training. They are a big group and Dele was among this group. The same way a squad is a puzzle and in the same way so is the bench. I cannot have three wingers and a number 10 and then no defender. Dele stayed out but probably Tuesday he will play.”

Journalist Fabrizio Romano reported that Spurs have been trying to offload Dele over the past few days and that Real Madrid did not want to take him on loan as part of the Gareth Bale deal.

The 24-year-old was hooked at halftime of Tottenham’s season-opening loss to Everton and has cooled off considerably since an early rejuvenation under Mourinho last season.

Dele has 62 goals and 55 assists in 223 appearances for Spurs, but just 16 and 14 in his last 77 dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season.

The knock on Dele has been that he’s a poor trainer, something the player laughed off when Mourinho pointed it out with a smirk during a meeting caught by cameras during the club’s “All Or Nothing” series.

Dele has three goals and six assists in 37 England caps and would still fetch a decent transfer fee, though he hasn’t appeared for the Three Lions since 2019.

Is it time to sell? Spurs run the risk that Dele’s value may never quite rebound anywhere near its heights and could dip quite a bit lower if he stays out of favor in North London. And Bale’s salary isn’t going to pay itself.

USMNT forward Gooch crafts long solo goal for Sunderland (video)

Lynden Gooch goal video
Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Former Premier League mainstay Sunderland is still toiling away in League One, but American forward Lynden Gooch enjoyed the competition on Saturday.

The Californian, 24, is a Black Cats lifer having joined the club at age 17 in 2012. He’s stuck with the club despite two relegations after his 11-appearance Premier League run in 2016-17.

[ MORE: Reyna gets first Bundesliga goal ]

Gooch came off the bench with Sunderland up 1-0 and delivering the second goal of the game within four minutes of his entrance.

There was some comical defending on the play, though we’d like to say the American bewitched Oxford United with his 20th senior goal for Sunderland to go with 17 assists in 126 outings.

Sunderland drew Bristol Rovers in its league opener and sit fifth on the table.

Gooch has made four substitute appearances for the USMNT but none since 2018.

Son, Kane team up four times in Spurs’ big win over Southampton

Southampton - Tottenham Hotspur
Photo by Andrew Boyers - Pool/Getty Images
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Southampton – Tottenham: Heung-min Son and Harry Kane beat Southampton by four on Sunday at St. Mary’s.

Okay, okay — Kane’s goal and four assists to Son joined some early goalkeeping heroics from Hugo Lloris to do the thing for Tottenham Hotspur and give Jose Mourinho a 5-2 win over Saints.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Danny Ings opened the scoring and completed it with a 90th-minute penalty to account for both of Southampton’s goals.

Tottenham’s first win of the season had plenty of sluggish moments after a Thursday trip to Bulgaria and Ralph Hasenhuttl had Saints firing early before petering out to lose a second match to start the PL season.

Saints go to Burnley next while Tottenham hosts Newcastle after a Tuesday outing at Leyton Orient in the League Cup and a UEL trip to Macedonia to meet Shkendija on Thursday.


Three things we learned from Southampton – Tottenham

1. Spurs carried by Lloris, clinical forwards: Tottenham had just one shot on target in the first half as offside denied both teams several goals and Hugo Lloris made some fantastic saves to deny Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men a halftime advantage. Kane’s assists to Son were just as good as the South Korean’s technical finishes, Spurs inviting fans to daydream of the star duo being joined in attack by Gareth Bale next month.

2. Kane-DB: Harry Kane channeled Man City star Kevin De Bruyne with his four assists, all of them pretty fantastic. There were two “no-look” huge crosses to go with some terrific hold-up play and flicks in the midfield. Kane had 3, 4, and 2 assists in the three PL seasons since collecting seven assists in his 29-goal 2016-17. He’s on four this season and added goal late.

3. Europa League Thursdays ask a lot: With all due respect to Southampton looking very good after two losses in two competitions, Spurs lagged out of the gates in our first reminder of the season that Europa League travel can suck the life out of legs. Tottenham had to work very hard in Bulgaria on Thursday and it’s difficult not to lay much of that at the feet of the UEL.

Man of the Match

Well it has to be Son, doesn’t it? Even with Kane adding a late goal, the South Korean’s clinical finishing was everything and more to Spurs’ win.


Southampton – Tottenham recap

Spurs had a third-minute goal — a delightful one at that — taken off the board when VAR spotted Heung-min Son offside in the build-up. The goal that would’ve been saw Harry Kane deploy supreme technique to turn and volley into the goal.

Ex-Saints man Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was bladed by teammate Oriol Romeu in the fifth minute, a yellow card welcome back to St. Mary’s.

Hugo Lloris made an outstanding reaction save when a set piece fell for Che Adams near the spot and the Englishman smashed an effort on frame.

Son was offside again when he broke through on goal but saw an odd-angled shot saved by Alex McCarthy.

A third goal came off the board but it was not offside, Lloris sliding to head the ball into the air and onto the arm of Danny Ings before the Englishman finished his chance.

Brilliant dribbling from Moussa Djenepo cued up another Adams chance at the back post and the forward calmly touched to hammer a shot that was blocked by a splayed Ben Davies.

A partially-cleared James Ward-Prowse free kick rolled to Djenepo, who zipped a shot through traffic and off the post. Close.

Kane had another ball in the goal off a Lucas Moura cross but the Brazilian was offside before passing into the box.

Ings got his goal in the 32nd off a long ball from former Spurs man Kyle Walker-Peters, taking advantage of a confused Eric Dier and slashing a shot past Lloris from in-tight.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A Lloris save on Stuart Armstrong just after halftime led to Tottenham’s second goal, Son running onto a Kane pass for the second time.

The biggest factor in the game was the offside flag, as both Saints and Spurs saw numerous chances rightly called off by the assistant referees.

Son completed his hat trick and Kane’s hat trick of assists in the 64th minute, Spurs carving up Saints to exhibit a flattering score line.

That frayed Saints’ last nerve, and another amazing pass from Kane cued up Son for 4-1. Kane would get another when he followed up substitute Erik Lamela’s 82nd-minute shot off the near post.

Newcastle – Brighton: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Newcastle v Brighton: A pair of sides that impressed on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Premier League season — but only one of them with anything to show for it — will meet at St. James’ Park on Sunday (Watch live at 9 am ET, online via Peacock).

NEWCASTLE – BRIGHTON STREAM LIVE

Newcastle United were far and away the better side in their season-opening victory away to West Ham United last weekend, while Brighton looked the better part of Chelsea’s equals for 54 minutes but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle v Brighton this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Newcastle v Brighton (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle will be without five players — Matty Longstaff (thigh), Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee) — leaving Steve Bruce with an increasingly thin squad, but he’ll be able to trot out the same XI that beat West Ham on Opening Day.

Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee) and Christian Walton (ankle) have all been ruled out for Sunday, with rising star Ben White passes a late fitness test after picking up a minor injury last week.


What they’re saying

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, on starting with a win: “I’m like everybody else, we all like to get off to a start and we couldn’t have had a better week in terms of results. The players have hit the ground running, which was always part of the reason why we went after who we went after. We’ve got a chance to get off to an outstanding start.”

Brighton manager Graham Potter, on Newcastle: “Newcastle will be strong. They were worthy winners at West Ham and they will be a tough test for us. Impressive, the business they have done. They have added to the squad and they will be really strong. Everyone knows what Andy Carroll brings to the team and physically he is very strong, and aerially he is strong. Him and [Callum] Wilson will be a strong partnership.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

There’s almost nothing to separate Newcastle (+160) from Brighton (+185) as the oddsmakers see Sunday’s clash a near-tossup. Even the draw (+210) isn’t far out of line with either side winning.

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Prediction

At the risk of placing too much importance upon a game in week no. 2, this one has the feel of an important litmus test for Newcastle. West Ham have been chaotic for quite some time now, but Brighton, despite finishing 15th last season, have appeared far more stable and trending upward under Potter. They’re likely a mid-table side this season, and Newcastle could be, too. In the end, it ends Newcastle 1-1 Brighton.


How to watch Newcastle v Brighton stream and start time

Kickoff: 9 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock