Canada is back in the International Soccer Federation’s (FIFA) Under-17 Women’s World Cup for a third straight time since the biennial tournament was introduced four years ago in New Zealand.
The national side advanced with a 1-0 win over Mexico in the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) semi-finals in Guatemala last week. Canada fell to the United States 1-0 in the regional championship match last Saturday night.
The national team posted four wins in five matches and scored 17 goals while conceding just two. Canada also qualified for the last tournament in Trinidad & Tobago two years ago.
The Canadians and Americans along with Mexico will represent the region in the 16-team tournament in Azerbaijan from September 22 to October 13. The other qualifiers so far are host country Azerbaijan, China, Japan, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, New Zealand, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay.
The two other European representatives will come out of the final qualifying round in Switzerland from June 26-29.
And, a 47-year-old female public relations executive is the first candidate to officially declare her intention to run for the presidency of the Sierra Leone Soccer Association. Isha Johansen owns a club that plays in the country’s premier league and is well known for her work with youth soccer in the country.
She says she has thrown her hat into the ring because the sport is in a “terrible state”.
“I believe I am in the best position to bring about the change,” she said. “I will bring integrity, sanity and discipline to the association.”
Johansen is not daunted that the country’s soccer association has never had a female president.
“There are two types of people in this world and they are those who make history and those who are part of making history,” she said. “If the delegates were to endorse and believe in me, they would be part of changing the face and the fate of soccer in Sierra Leone. My contributions to the sport are immense in that I have exposed talents and also helped in the re-branding of Sierra Leone in the world.”
Johansen’s club, FC Johansen, won the Swiss Under-16 Cup last year. She also organized two youth tournaments in Freetown in 2009 and 2011 showcasing African, Brazilian and Norwegian teams.
There is just one female soccer president in Africa. Lydia Nsekera in Burundi has held the position for the past eight years. Liberian Izetta Wesley was the first African woman to head a soccer federation.
Johansen’s announcement that she’s bidding for the presidency was made almost at the same time that the Sierra Leone Premier League was suspended indefinitely because of a lack of sponsorship. The first round of the league concluded two weeks ago and the second round was slated to begin last weekend.
Just last week, Sierra Leone moved up in the FIFA rankings ahead of Nigeria. The West African country has never been to a World Cup and has been in just two African Nations Cup tournaments.
Sierra Leone is ranked 61st while Nigeria is 63rd and South Africa 67th. Ivory Coast is the top ranked African team at #15 while Ghana is ranked 22nd.
By RON FANFAIR