England defender Lucy Bronze revealed she made a post-match beeline to console “upset” Lauren James after the forward was shown what could be a World Cup-ending red card in the Lionesses’ nervy last 16 victory over Nigeria.

James will miss at least her side’s quarter-final clash with either Colombia or Jamaica after she was sent off late in Monday night’s knockout match in Brisbane for deliberately stepping on the back of Nigeria defender Michelle Alozie.

Bronze was one of the 10 Lionesses who doggedly defended their way through 30 minutes of extra time in the goalless draw before Bethany England, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood and Chloe Kelly wrapped up the 4-2 win on penalties.

Bronze said: “Obviously she’s going to be disappointed in herself. I went straight off the pitch after the game to make sure she was OK.

“Obviously she was a little bit upset and rightfully so and more than anything she just feels bad for the team. I said to her, ‘We’ve made it through. It’s a team, it’s not just one player.'”

James’ World Cup fate will now be decided by FIFA’s disciplinary committee, who could extend her ban to three matches, which would see her miss the rest of the tournament even if the Lionesses reach a first-ever final.

The first red card of the competition was shown in the group stage to Nigeria’s Deborah Abiodun for her tackle on Canada’s Ashley Lawrence, who will join James at Chelsea after signing a three-year deal with the Blues on 1 July.

Abiodun’s punishment was extended to three matches after she served the first game, so the same outcome for James, who boss Sarina Wiegman said “lost her emotions” in the incident, is a real possibility. 

Bronze and Greenwood are the only two Lionesses to have featured in the past three World Cups, while this is the 21-year-old Chelsea forward’s first. 

James is the younger sister of Chelsea and England defender Reece James, and said before the tournament that she hoped to use the World Cup to carve out an identity separate from her sibling, whose name is regularly mentioned in tandem with hers but rarely, if ever, vice versa. 

She had begun to do so in stunning style before she was sent off in the 87th minute of Monday night’s match-up, scoring the only goal in England’s 1-0 group stage victory over Denmark before netting two and picking up three assists in the Lionesses’ 6-1 win over China, in the process becoming the only England player of either gender to contribute to five goals in a single World Cup contest.

Bronze said: “Although LJ is the youngest in the team, she’s had to mature from a young age because she’s been thrown into the spotlight, whether that’s to do with her brother and her family, or that she’s a fantastic player on her own.

“In the last game, everyone put the spotlight on her. She deals with it very, very well. She likes hanging around with the older players, myself, Jordan (Nobbs), Alex Greenwood, we are the three that she comes to asking for advice.

“LJ didn’t start the first game, she didn’t feature at all during the Euros.

“She’s a massively talented player. We all know that, and obviously we’re very disappointed to lose a player of her calibre going into the next game. No one’s going to be more disappointed than LJ. It’s important to support her.”

England boss Sarina Wiegman admitted “sweetest person” Lauren James “lost her emotions” as she received a red card that could see the 21-year-old miss the remainder of the World Cup.

The Lionesses advanced to the quarter-finals after surviving James’ dismissal late in the second half to beat Nigeria on penalties, with Euro 2022 hero Chloe Kelly scoring the winning spot-kick in a 4-2 shoot-out success.

James’ brace and two assists earned her player-of-the-match honours against China, but this time she was sent off after it was ruled she had deliberately stepped on the back of Nigeria defender Michelle Alozie with three minutes of normal time remaining of a game that ended goalless after 120 minutes.

Wiegman, who had not watched the incident back, said: “She’s an inexperienced player on this stage and has done really well, and I think in a split second she just lost her emotions.

“And of course she doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She’s the sweetest person I know, and things happen like that and you can’t change it anymore, so it’s a huge lesson for her to learn, but of course it’s not something that she really did on purpose.”

Wiegman said she personally delivered a similar speech to James, adding: “Of course she apologised and she felt really, really bad.”

James became the fourth England player to be sent off in a World Cup knockout match after David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and current England captain Millie Bright, who was shown a second yellow against the United States in the 2019 semi-finals.

Chelsea forward James, who made her World Cup debut against Haiti, faces at minimum a one-match ban, but that could be extended by FIFA’s disciplinary committee to three which would see her miss the rest of the tournament even if the Lionesses reach the final.

England’s spirits were high to begin Monday night’s contest in Brisbane, where midfielder Keira Walsh made a remarkable return from what many thought was a tournament-ending knee injury 10 days ago against Denmark.

Walsh played 120 minutes against Nigeria before being substituted but Wiegman said: “She was cramping a little bit, so we had to take her off, but she’s OK.”

Wiegman benefitted from a healthy side en route to England’s Euro 2022 triumph, but after dealing with multiple injury problems in the run-up to the tournament and coping without key presence Walsh and now breakout talent James, she admitted: “I have never experienced so many problems, but of course it’s my job to think of things that can happen in a game or in a tournament or ahead of the tournament.

“So you try to turn every stone, and then try to already think of a solution if things happen, and today we got totally tested on those turned stones.”

Nigeria had impressed throughout the group stage and were no different against England, twice hitting the crossbar and frustrating the Lionesses by employing a higher press for this knockout encounter.

But England held on in James’ absence to ensure their destiny would be decided by spot-kicks, with Bethany England, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood and Kelly all scoring after Georgia Stanway fired the first wide.

“I’m really proud of the team,” added Wiegman. “We’ve had many setbacks. I think this (James red card) was a big one too.

“We had to reorganise and do something else on the pitch and we didn’t need any minute to do so.

“And of course players got really, really tired, but we really stuck together and showed a lot of resilience.”

Nigeria head coach Randy Waldrum, whose contract with his federation is soon set to expire, said: “They just played their heart out. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I take away that we can be and probably should be one of the top teams in the world.

“I certainly hope that FIFA ranking goes from 40 to a better number than that, but more importantly I think we’ve shown that we’re capable of playing with anybody.

“I think we gave some teams that are still alive in this tournament at least a blueprint of how to approach (England).”

Lauren James became the fourth England player to be sent off in a World Cup knockout match after her red card against Nigeria.

The 21-year-old suffered the same fate as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Millie Bright on the world stage.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at those who saw red in white.

David Beckham v Argentina, 1998

England were drawing 2-2 with their fierce rivals from South America when, two minutes after half-time, Beckham was shoved to the ground by Argentina henchman Diego Simeone.

As he was lying face down on the pitch, the Manchester United midfielder petulantly swung his right leg at the perpetrator.

It was hardly the crime of the century but it occurred right in front of referee Kim Morten Nielsen, who booked Simeone before swapping cards and giving Beckham his marching orders.

The 10 players of England managed to hold out for a 2-2 draw but lost on penalties, with Beckham made the scapegoat for their exit in the last 16.

Wayne Rooney v Portugal, 2006

Rooney was tussling for the ball with Ricardo Carvalho when he left the sole of his boot in the groin of the Portugal defender.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney’s then-Manchester United team-mate, led the protests towards referee Horacio Marcelo Elizondo, who initially looked set to take no further action after awarding a free-kick.

Rooney shoved Ronaldo away before Elizondo brandished the red card, prompting the famous wink towards the bench from the Portugal superstar.

Again, England held out for more than half an hour a player down to force penalties after a goalless draw. And again, they lost the shoot-out to exit in the quarter-finals.

Millie Bright v USA, 2019

England were 2-1 down, had seen a goal disallowed and missed a penalty when, in the 86th minute, centre-half Bright made another heavy challenge on USA goalscorer Alex Morgan.

Having already been booked for a crunching tackle on the striker in the first half, Bright was shown a second yellow to become the first woman to be sent off for England at a World Cup.

It was a deflating semi-final exit for the Lionesses, while the USA went on to lift the trophy in France, with England eventually finishing fourth.

Lauren James v Nigeria, 2023

There were echoes of Beckham and Rooney when England’s brightest young star, Chelsea forward James, trod on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie.

James was initially booked for the 87th-minute incident but the replays were not pretty and, after a VAR review, it was upgraded to a red card.

England held out through extra time for a goalless draw and, for a change, won the penalty shoot-out to go through to the quarter-finals.

Chloe Kelly added another memorable moment to her Lionesses career as her spot-kick secured 10-woman England a place in the World Cup quarter-finals after a dramatic shoot-out with Nigeria in Brisbane.

It was not all elation for England, however, after Lauren James was shown a straight red card for a stamp on Michelle Alozie following a VAR review late in the second half which could see her banned for the remainder of this tournament.

Midfielder Keira Walsh returned for the first time since she was carried off the pitch on a stretcher in England’s 1-0 group-stage victory against Denmark and played 120 minutes of a dramatic contest.

England were far from their best and were lucky not to exit the tournament in 90 minutes, but dug deep to ensure the match finished goalless after extra time, with Euro 2022 hero Kelly firing in the decisive penalty.

The European champions largely remained camped inside Nigeria’s half for the first 10 minutes, before the Super Falcons began to build momentum.

Georgia Stanway’s stumble led to their first real chance as Uchenna Kanu directed a header at the England goal but was blocked at the last by Millie Bright’s clearance.

Randy Waldrum’s side threatened again as former England youth international Ashleigh Plumptre came within inches of an opener when her attempt clipped the underside of the crossbar and it took a brilliant save by Earps to stop the ex-Leicester defender soon after.

The Lionesses were then initially awarded a penalty when Rasheedat Ajibade initially appeared to shove Daly inside the area, Stanway convinced enough she started stepping up to the spot, but the decision was reversed after Honduran referee Melissa Borjas was sent to check the pitchside monitor.

James, largely subdued after her two-goal, three-assist performance against China, then saw an effort sail over.

It was the Super Falcons who attacked first in the second half, Kanu’s nodded effort catching the woodwork, while England struggled to find the same fluidity they displayed in their 6-1 rout of China – a side ranked 26 places above Nigeria.

Waldman brought on his most fearsome weapon in Bronze and Walsh’s Barcelona team-mate Asisat Oshoala, the five-time African women’s footballer of the year with whom they lifted the Champions League trophy in June.

Stanway was next to try to get a misfiring England going with a delivery from the right to find Daly, who volleyed wide.

England were lucky when Kanu spun a header past the right post as they searched for a solution to Nigeria’s relentless physicality before a fine stop from Chiamaka Nnadozie firstly prevented Daly nodding in from six yards and then Russo from the left.

It was the Nigerian fans whose voices echoed loudest as they earned another free kick and continued to pile the pressure on England.

Things went from bad to worse for Wiegman’s side when another call to the monitor ruled James had deliberately stamped on the back of Nigeria defender Alozie and she was sent off with three minutes of normal time remaining.

“Eye of the Tiger” blasted over the speakers as the Lionesses willed themselves to fight through extra time a player light and again breathed a sigh of relief when Alozie should have given Nigeria the lead but missed a big chance at the near post.

England doggedly defended their way through as Wiegman made just her second substitution, swapping Lauren Hemp for Bethany England at the 106-minute mark after replacing Russo with Kelly after 88 minutes.

Earps kept the Lionesses in it when she calmly caught Oshoala’s effort from inside the penalty area as Walsh’s comeback finally came to a close and the Lionesses calmly closed out extra time to ensure their World Cup destiny would be decided by spot kicks.

Stanway, whose penalty was the only goal in England’s 1-0 opening victory against Haiti, stepped up first but this time fired wide of the left post, reprieved when Desire Oparanozie sent hers to the exact same spot.

Beth England, who did not play a single minute of England’s Euro 2022 triumph last summer, pumped her fist in the air when she fired past Nnadozie and Alozie skied her effort as the Lionesses turned to Rachel Daly.

The Women’s Super League Golden Boot winner gave the Nigerian keeper no chance with a perfectly-placed penalty to the top corner before Ajibade beat Earps.

Greenwood and Christy Ucheibe both converted and so it was up to Kelly, who, with another significant contribution on the global stage, fired England through.

Keira Walsh could make a stunning return for England’s last-16 World Cup clash against Nigeria.

Walsh was stretchered off late in the first half of the Lionesses’ 28 July victory over Denmark, with fears that the influential midfielder’s tournament could be over, but scans revealed her knee injury was not as serious as first suspected.

The 26-year-old took another step forward in her recovery when she joined her team-mates in training at the Central Coast Stadium on the eve of their last-16 showdown, before England flew to Brisbane ahead of the knockout encounter.

England boss Sarina Wiegman said: “She is doing well. She started her rehab straight after we knew what was going on.

“She has been on the pitch, she has been training today. Now we will wait until [we see] how she recovers from that training session and if she does well then she is available tomorrow.”

The Dutch boss, who led the Netherlands to the World Cup final four years ago in France, would not reveal specifically what injury Walsh had sustained, but did add: “I can only say that there wasn’t a ligament injury.

“Of course that moment in that game against Denmark, that was a very hard moment, but after the assessments and we knew what was going on we also said don’t take any assumptions.

“Just wait until a proper assessment has been done. That’s what we did and then we got the green light to just get her rehab started.

“Everybody is going on about injuries all the time, but the day after we noticed things were much better.”

The moment Walsh was stretchered off – grimacing, telling team staff “I’ve done my knee” and fending off help from team-mates – England fans began to fear that she was the most recent victim of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) crisis facing women’s football.

European champions Leah Williamson and Beth Mead were ruled out with that injury ahead of this tournament, while Fran Kirby also underwent surgery for a separate knee issue.

Wiegman stuck to the Lionesses’ standard 4-3-3 formation in the immediate aftermath of Walsh’s injury and brought in Manchester City’s Laura Coombs for the remainder of the 1-0 Denmark victory, but against China handed Manchester United captain Katie Zelem her first England start and switched to a 3-5-2, which paid off with a thumping 6-1 victory.

Wiegman added: “We have two options now. The way we played and what we did against China, we have taken that into consideration.”

Nigeria head coach Randy Waldrum is confident in his plan for however England line up, with or without Walsh.

He said: “Obviously, she’s a key player in the midfield for them. Kind of like we had to do for Australia and Sam Kerr, we had to prepare with and without, we have to do the same.

“England has so many weapons. All of those players are playing all over the world in high profile settings. There are more that can do damage to us than just her. They’ve given us a lot of challenges to prepare for and it will just be another one if she comes in.

“We have to prepare for both, as a coach I would expect her to go with a back three because they played ever so well like that.

“We also know they’re going to adapt to how they can best play against us so we have to prepare for both situations, that’s what makes the job challenging because we don’t have a lot of time. We’ve tried this week to prepare for both and we’ll see which way they come out.

“[Sarina Wiegman] has done a fantastic job with England, since she took over you can see the progression of the team.

“When I look at a coach and try to analyse, if I don’t know them personally, you look at the team and tell if they have an idea. In their organisation, they look like they have a plan [and] a way they want to play.”

England midfielder Keira Walsh is back in team training ahead of their Women’s World Cup last-16 tie with Nigeria.

The 26-year-old was stretchered off during England’s Group D win over Denmark, with what was initially feared could be a tournament-ending knee injury.

However, the Barcelona star’s injury is not as bad as first thought and her chances of featuring in the knockout phase received a boost on Sunday.

The Lionesses begin the knockout phase of their World Cup campaign against Nigeria on Monday and a tweet from England read: “All 23 players are out for training today at Central Coast Stadium.”

Walsh missed England’s last group game, a dominant 6-1 victory over China, and it remains to be seen whether she will be involved for the last-16 clash.

The 26-year-old did not hurt her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), with Sarina Wiegman saying ahead of the China game: “Keira is OK. We said that it’s not an ACL and we can’t give you more information.”

Knee injuries had already ruled captain Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead out of the World Cup.

England will face Nigeria in Brisbane on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup.

Here, the PA news agency gives the lowdown on the Lionesses’ last-16 opponents.


After battling to a goalless draw in their opening Group B match against Canada, with goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie saving a spot-kick, Nigeria stunned Australia with a memorable 3-2 victory in Brisbane.

Randy Waldrum’s side then secured progress into the knockout phase as group runners-up when they drew 0-0 against the Republic of Ireland.

American coach Waldrum has highlighted the chemistry and bond within the squad as key to their success so far.

Having fought their way out of arguably one of the toughest pools, expect more of the same determination with Waldrum often utilising a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation to maximise impact as Nigeria aim for what would be a first win in the Women’s World Cup knockout stage.



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A team-mate of England defender Lucy Bronze at Barcelona, midfielder Asisat Oshoala opened her 2023 World Cup account with what proved to be the winner against Australia.

Earlier in her career the 28-year-old had spells in England with Liverpool and Arsenal, winning the 2016 FA Cup with the latter.

Following a move to Barcelona from Chinese club Dalian, Oshoala – a five-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year – went on to win the Champions League as well as the Primera Division title.

Nigeria coach Waldrum is in no doubt about the impact she can make, saying: “When you have Oshoala, you have a chance against any team.”


The Lionesses won their first meeting with Nigeria, Karen Farley striking twice in a 3-2 victory in the final group game at the 1995 World Cup.

Since then, however, the Super Falcons have emerged victorious in each of the two friendly fixtures between the nations.

They triumphed 3-0 in a friendly against Hope Powell’s England in Reading in April 2004 and were 1-0 winners when the teams met in Norwich in July 2002, Florence Omagbemi’s goal settling matters.

Republic of Ireland defender Louise Quinn is determined to exit the World Cup on a high.

The Irish cannot make the knockout stages after defeats to Australia and Canada but still have one group game remaining against Nigeria in Brisbane on Monday.

Yet the African side are well on course for the last 16 after their stunning triumph over hosts Australia last time out and Quinn recognises her team have their work cut out.

The 33-year-old told Sky Sports: “How they’re even ranked the fourth seed in the group I don’t know, because they are an excellent, excellent team.

“We knew that we wanted to be able to come into this game, in terms of progressing through the group, to really have something to play for but, for us, there’s still so much that we want to achieve and that we want to do.

“We want to still make the history of getting points, really mixing up this group for us. We’re still fully concentrated on that.

“But they’ve been excellent, they’ve proved it in their two games. We have our work cut out with them.

“But, at the same time, we’ve shown against the two top sides in this group as well, Australia and Canada, that they’re going to have to beware of us in a lot of ways.”

Nigeria go into the game as leaders of Group B, ahead of Canada on goals scored. Australia, who face Canada, are a point behind with the Irish still to register.

Ireland have no fresh fitness concerns and are hopeful Heather Payne will be able to return after missing the Canada game with a hamstring problem.

Australia captain Sam Kerr will sit out the next two matches of her home Woman’s World Cup with a calf injury, her national federation has announced.

The Chelsea striker is Australia’s all-time goalscorer of either gender with 63 goals across 121 caps, but she will be forced to watch Thursday’s opener against the Republic of Ireland from the bench after sustaining the injury during a training session on Wednesday.

Australia next face Nigeria on July 27 and will hope Kerr is fit enough to start their final group stage match on July 31 against Olympic champions Canada, the highest FIFA-ranked Group B nation.

A Matildas tweet read: “Sam Kerr is unavailable tonight after she picked up a calf injury at training on MD-1.


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“Sam will be unavailable for the next two matches, with the Matildas medical team to reassess her following our second group-stage match.”

Football Writers’ Association women’s footballer of the year Kerr, 29, took to Instagram to express her disappointment in a post that read: “Unfortunately I sustained a calf injury yesterday in training.

“I wanted to share this with everyone so there is no distraction from us doing what we came here to achieve.

“Of course I would have loved to have been out there tonight but I can’t wait to be a part of this amazing journey which starts now.”

Joao Felix backed Portugal to go all the way at the World Cup after Fernando Santos welcomed a selection headache following a 4-0 friendly thrashing of Nigeria.

Bruno Fernandes' first-half double, coupled with late strikes for Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario, saw Santos' side to a comfortable triumph on Thursday before setting off for Qatar.

Atletico Madrid attacker Joao Felix did not manage to get on the scoresheet but impressed in Lisbon, with Santos noting a credible performance from the 23-year-old.

"He was one of the best, with some others. They were all better, nobody plays alone," the Portugal coach said.

"Joao played a good game too, at the level of what the others did. I have 26 players knocking on the door. Every day they knock on my door in training.

"They all knock on the door and they all have reasons to play. That's certainly good for the coach."

Joao Felix suggested he enjoys more attacking freedom for Portugal than Atletico Madrid, as he backed Santos' side for glory in Qatar, where they face Ghana in their Group H opener next Thursday.

"I have more freedom of movement with the national team because we are very mobile," he said. "I felt good and the team had a great game.

"I think we are prepared to win the World Cup. We looked for the goal and I helped the team, which is my mission as a striker. 

"The goals did not appear in this game, but they will happen in the World Cup."

Santos will also have to consider the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed the friendly victory due to "illness" as the aftermath of his scathing interview on Manchester United continues.

Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Portugal eased to a 4-0 victory over Nigeria in their sole World Cup warm-up game, despite missing captain Cristiano Ronaldo through illness.

Fernando Santos' side produced a dominant showing in Lisbon on Thursday amid the ongoing furore over the absent Ronaldo's scathing interview on Manchester United.

Fernandes' first-half double, the latter from the penalty spot, set Portugal on their way in their final outing ahead of Qatar, before Goncalo Ramos scored after Emmanuel Dennis missed a second-half spot-kick.

Joao Mario added a late fourth and Portugal will now turn their attention to next Thursday's Group H opener against Ghana as they aim to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in four tournaments.

Fernandes miscued an effort just wide in the opening stages but made amends after nine minutes as he turned home Diogo Dalot's cutback pass.

Joao Felix curled narrowly over before Bright Osayi-Samuel was adjudged to have handled inside the area, with Fernandes sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way with his spot-kick.

A host of half-time changes did little to alter Portugal's dominance, though Samuel Chukwueze forced a rare Rui Patricio save before Uzoho tipped over from Joao Felix.

The VAR deemed Dalot to have shoved Osayi-Samuel inside the area, though Patricio saved Dennis' penalty before Ramos sealed victory by tapping in Raphael Guerreiro's unselfish pass.

A simple Joao Felix offload teed up the final goal as Joao Mario prodded into an empty net.

What does it mean? Santos' side in cruise control ahead of Qatar

The ongoing controversy surrounding five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo could have easily derailed Portugal, though that did not prove the case in a routine win.

Santos' side dominated from the first minute without their talisman and will be confident of escaping Group H, which also includes Uruguay and South Korea.

However, the likes of Ghana and Uruguay – the latter with the likes of Federico Valverde, Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez – will prove much sterner tasks than Nigeria in Qatar.

Fernandes refutes Ronaldo deputy tag

All the talk in the build-up to the friendly surrounded Fernandes' United team-mate Ronaldo, though it was the midfielder who shone at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Fernandes has regularly played the backing role to Ronaldo at Old Trafford and Portugal, but offered a timely reminder of his qualities with two goals as well as misplacing just three of his 37 passes.

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While Portugal impressed without their star attacker, Nigeria were left wanting in their forward line as Terem Moffi failed to deliver.

The 23-year-old completed just six of his 11 passes and managed 15 touches – the fewest of any outfield starter – before his second-half removal.

What's next?

Portugal's curtain-raiser comes against Ghana in Doha, while Nigeria are not scheduled for action until facing Guinea-Bissau in Africa Cup of Nations qualification in March.

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Senegal and continental powerhouse Ivory Coast have been drawn together for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The biennial tournament is due to be held in Algeria in January and February 2023, with 18 teams competing across five groups. The participants must consist only of players playing in their domestic national league competitions.

Group B looms as the toughest with Senegal drawn alongside two-time AFCON winners Ivory Coast, as well as DR Congo and Uganda. DR Congo missed out on 2022 World Cup qualification in the playoffs to Morocco.

Hosts Algeria are in Group A with 2014 winners Libya, Ethiopia and Mozambique, while Morocco, who have lifted the past two African Nations Championship titles, are in Group C with Ghana, Sudan and Madagascar.

Mali, Angola and Mauritania are in Group D and Cameroon, Congo and Niger make up Group E.

Egypt, who lost last year's AFCON final to Senegal, along with 2022 World Cup participants Tunisia did not enter, while Nigeria failed to qualify.

Former Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

The midfielder, who had most recently played for Kuwait SC, called time on his 20-year career on Tuesday.

Mikel spent the majority of his playing days with Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Europa League.

The enforcer also lifted the FA Cup three times during his time with the Blues and got his hands on the EFL Cup in 2007.

Mikel won 91 caps for the Super Eagles and the highlight of his international career was a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph.

He posted on Instagram: "There is a saying that 'all good things must come to an end', and for my professional football career, that day is today.

"I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape.

"All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, team-mates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans. You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.

"I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.

"This is not goodbye, it's the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you."

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica won sprint relay medals on Sunday with silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

Despite the absence of 200m champion Jereem Richards Trinidad and Tobago’s team of Jerod Elcock, Eric Harrison Jr, Kion Benjamin Hislop and Kyle Greaux raced to a season-best 38.70 to claim second place behind England that ran a season-best 38.35 for the gold medal.

Nigeria ran 38.81 for the bronze.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s women owe a debt of gratitude to sprint-double champion Elaine Thompson-Herah for their bronze medal as Kemba Nelson, Remona Burchell and Natalliah Whyte were unable to put Jamaica in contention for a medal over the first three legs.

However, at the final exchange with Jamaica in fifth, the fastest woman alive, stormed down the home stretch to snatch the bronze medal from Australia.

Jamaica clocked a relatively pedestrian 43.08, well behind England who ran a season-best 42.41 for the silver and winners Nigeria, who stormed to a new area record of 42.10.

Australia clocked 43.16 for fourth.

Jamaican Olympian Lacena Golding Clarke sensed that Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan would set a world record during the semi-finals of 100m hurdles on Sunday’s final day of the 2022 World Championships of Athletics in Eugene, Oregon.

Clarke, 47, recruited Amusan from Nigeria in 2016 bringing her to the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) after the then 18-year-old won the 100m hurdles in a time of 14.26 at the Junior African Championships in March 2015.

Since then, she has been the coach and second mother to Amusan, who ran 12.12 in the semi-finals to break the world record of 12.20 that had been held by American Kendra Harrison in July 2016.

Showing it was no fluke, Amusan would go on to win the title in an even faster 12.06 (2.5m/s). The run in the semi-final, Golding-Clarke said, was incredible but looking back, not really unexpected.

“At first it was unbelievable,” said the Golding Clarke who will take up a coaching position at her alma mater Auburn University in the Fall.

“We knew she could come close to running the then world record, we’ve rehearsed it in training a couple of times last year and this year. So, I know what she could do.

“However, I was very happy, excited and pleased because of all the hard work that went into training this season.”

Golding Clarke, the 2002 Commonwealth Games champion, said the work that went into preparing Amusan, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion, paid off massively.

“This season was the same as before with more speed and rhythm endurance work plus drilling techniques every training day,” she said.

“We focused more on staying healthy, we drilled technique that needed to be taken care of, and, of course, we paid extra attention to her rhythm/speed endurance.”

The proud coach also related that Amusan was driven by the disappointment of finishing fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

In Tokyo, Amusan crossed the line in 12.60 just behind Jamaica’s Megan Tapper 12.550, Harrison 12.520 and gold medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn 12.370. According to Clarke, she was motivated to redeem herself in Oregon.

“She wants to be the best she can be; specifically, she wanted to be on the podium, she did not want another fourth place at a global competition so she focused more on herself this time around and executing her race plan,” said Clarke.

The Jamaica coach describes the relationship between her and Amusan as being like family.

“The relationship is more like a mother/daughter type,” she said.

“Her mom sent her far away from home to get her education and to run track for the University of Texas at El Paso and so as a coach, I am her family away from home.

“Tobi is a dedicated and hard-working person, very persistent. She is sometimes goofy with persons she calls friends, very friendly and nice to speak with but mostly a loner.”

So sweet was the moment Amusan set the world record that not even the unfortunate comments from Michael Johnson, the multiple Olympic gold medallist and former 200m and 400m world-record holder, could ruin the occasion for Golding Clarke and her 24-year-old charge.

Johnson, who was a pundit during the championships, suggested that the timing system had malfunctioned during the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles. His comments drew the ire of Nigerians on social media. Golding scoffed at the comments.

“I really thought it very absurd,” she said.

“I did not really pay it any mind because that would take away from the joy of winning and breaking the world record.”

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