Round of 16 Women’s World Cup preview: China vs. Cameroon

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CHINA vs. CAMEROON

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., EDT
Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
TV: NBCDeportes.com
Team records: China 1-1-1 (second in Group A); Cameroon 2-1-0 (second in Group C)
Best performance at World Cup: China 1999 (finalist); Cameroon 2015 (first appearance in knockout stage)

Key players:
China – Wang Fei: Fei is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and the only Chinese player in Europe (Turbine Potsdam). Much of the Chinese success at the defensive end revolves around her and her 5-foot-11 frame, but a closer inspection of recent results shows Wang has not been perfect. Cameroon will likely get chances and Wang will need to be equal to the task.
Cameroon – Gaelle Enganamouit: One of the breakout stars of the World Cup, Enganamouit is hoping that on Saturday, the attention of her game matches the attention her hair has gotten. She has not been a prolific goal scorer for Cameroon in her international career thus far, but his size and athleticism should give China lots of trouble. Judging by her attitude in the group stages, she won’t wilt in the spotlight and having played a couple of seasons in Sweden, she has some big game experience many of her teammates do not.

Under-the-radar players:
China – Li Ying: This will be just her 14th cap for her country and she’s only 22, but Li has been the most skillful player for China in the group stages, and they are going to need her to not only keep the ball, but pick out her teammates. She stands to have some room to operate if Cameroon sticks to its open style, and on a team without many scoring options, Li may be the one to step up.
Cameroon – Christine Manie: The 31-year-old captain is listed at 5-foot-3, and she might not even be that tall, but she plays huge as both a severely undersized center back and leader for Cameroon. It was Manie who scored the winner over Ivory Coast in qualifying to put Cameroon in Canada, and she also has some big game experience, having played for Romanian champion Olympia Cluj, which also allowed her to participate in the UEFA Champions League.

“I am the only black player in Romania, and one of the only foreign ones,” Manie told FIFA. “It is true Romania is far from my country and my family, but I chose to do this job, that can bring you to every corner of the world. For the moment, I play in Romania, I don’t know where I will play next. Only God decides.”

As Julie Johnston has proven for the United States, a little guts can go a long way at the center back position.

Inside the numbers:
1 — Number of African teams to qualify for the knockout stages in World Cup history (1999 Nigeria). The continent also only had four wins in this tournament lifetime – two by that 1999 Nigerian team and none by debutant Cameroon, obviously – so this is a chance on the big stage not just for Cameroon, but largely underfunded African women’s soccer as well.

Random stat:
Cameroon outshot all three group stage opponents (Switzerland was close at 16-15, but they had a 20-4 edge on Japan), while China only had more shots than their opponent once (although that was an impressive 27-8 edge over the Netherlands).

Breaking it down:
It’s a fascinating contrast of styles with China playing very compact and lacking offensive talent with Cameroon preferring an open match and having several players (like Gabrielle Onguene who starred against Switzerland) that could give the organized Chinese defense trouble. However, it also breaks down fairly evenly once you take into account strengths and weaknesses.

Cameroon’s athleticism may be China’s biggest problem, they pretty much bullied Japan around in the second half (ending up with a 14-3 foul advantage, but also creating a few chances off Japanese mistakes. This is not to say aggressiveness = dirtiness, although Cameroon (after getting only one card each in its first two games) were given four yellows against Switzerland.

China, of course, had a sportsmanship controversy against New Zealand, when several players went down in the final 10 minutes and then head coach Hao Wei was removed from the touchline for interfering with a Ria Percival throw-in.

Many (with us included) have made comparisons between this Cameroon team and the 1990 men’s team that caught the world’s attention both with their results and style of play. In both occasions, most insiders figured Cameroon’s disorganization would eventually trump its entertaining and talented attacking play, but it really hasn’t been apparent thus far in Canada, with the possible exception of the first half against Japan. So China may beat them, but it probably won’t be due to a defensive meltdown.

In the end, this will be a remarkable quarterfinal appearance for one of these teams considering where they were four years ago, which is not at the World Cup. Making a call is one of those ever popular heart-head dilemmas, but the heart has its days.

Prediction: Cameroon 2-1 (AET)

Watch Live: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

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The 2019 U-17 World Cup final takes place in Bezerrão Stadium on Saturday as favorites Brazil host an inspired Mexico.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

With four goals and one assist, Kaio Jorge has been Brazil’s most productive attacking player this tournament, while Mexico’s and Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez is hoping to end an incredible tournament in triumphant fashion.

History between both national teams in a U-17 World Cup final dates back to 2005, when LAFC’s Carlos Vela and Mexico routed Marcelo and Brazil 3-0 in Lima, Peru.

Click on the link above to watch the game live.


U-17 World Cup final
Brazil v. Mexico – 5 p.m. ET

England finishes EURO 2020 qualifying by beating Kosovo

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England’s 2020 European Championship qualification campaign wrapped up on Sunday with a slightly flattering 4-0 victory away to third-place, and playoff qualifiers, Kosovo.

[ VIDEO: Game stopped for racist chanting; player targeted later scores goal ]

Gareth Southgate‘s side was hardly at its best just three days after thrashing Montenegro and securing qualification to this summer’s tournament. They only led by a score of 1-0 through 78 minutes, before scoring a trio of late goals to put the game out of reach and rob the hosts of any potential moral victory.

Harry Winks opened the scoring, and his England account, in the 32nd minute. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found Winks near the top of Kosovo’s penalty area and though Winks’ first touch appeared quite poor, every player in blue stopped and stood as the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder walked in on goal and coolly slotted the ball home to make it 1-0.

[ PREVIEW: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final ]

From that point forward, Kosovo enjoyed control of the game’s tempo and looked every bit the Three Lions’ equal. That is, until Harry Kane finished an open chance at the back post in the 79th minute and opened the floodgates.

Marcus Rashford added a third four minutes later, followed by another first England goal — this time, scored by Mason Mount — in the 91st.

England finishes EURO 2020 qualification with a record of 7W-0D-1L and a +31 goal differential, which is second only to Belgium who sit at +32 with one game still to play. England required Sunday’s victory to confirm its place as a Pot 1 team at the draw for the group stage.

Arsenal beat Spurs in front of WSL-record crowd of 38,262

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LONDON (AP) The first north London derby in the Women’s Super League produced a record crowd of 38,262 for the competition on Sunday when Arsenal claimed a 2-0 victory at Tottenham.

[ PREVIEW: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final ]

The newly fully professional side held out until the 66th minute when Kim Little struck for the champions and Vivianne Miedema extended Arsenal’s lead in the 82nd minute.

It was the first time Tottenham, in its first top-flight campaign, had staged women’s football at its main 61,000-capacity stadium, which opened earlier this year.

The crowd surpassed the 31,213 at Manchester City for the visit of Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season in September.

Tottenham hosted Arsenal on the first designated Women’s Football Weekend in England which also saw 23,500 at Anfield for Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Everton.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Lionel Messi negotiating a new deal ]

Chelsea opened the season by hosting Tottenham in front of around 25,000 at Stamford Bridge.

League leaders Chelsea were back at their usual home of Kingsmeadow on Sunday. Maren Mjelde’s penalty sealed a 1-0 victory over promoted Manchester United in front of 4,790 fans – a WSL record crowd for a game not played in a large stadium usually used by the men’s team.

VIDEO: Dutch 2nd-division game stopped for racist abuse; player later scores goal

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A Dutch second-division game between Den Bosch and Excelsior was temporarily stopped on Sunday due to suspected racist chanting and Nazi salutes performed by some of Den Bosch’s fans.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Lionel Messi negotiating a new deal ]

The game was halted by referee Laurens Gerrets in the 30 minute. Dutch winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira, who plays for Excelsior, was the player targeted by the racist chanting. He was at that time seen gesturing toward the crowd, indicating to Gerrets and teammates that he was hearing racist abuse from the stands.

In a mixed zone for media availability after the game, Den Bosch manager Erik van der Ven is reported to have called Mendes Moreira a “pathetic little man” for pointing out the racist abuse to Gerrets. Den Bosch released a statement claiming that no racist abuse occurred, that the fans were instead making “crow sounds” and treating Mendes Moreira to a “crow concert,” which they claim is part of customary treatment of opposing players.

[ PREVIEW: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final ]

Mendes Moreira appeared emotional after scoring a goal to put Excelsior 2-1 ahead fewer than 15 minutes after the game was restarted.