Another feast of international football beckons today with action in all five tournaments taking place around the globe.
It’s Round of 16 time in the Women’s World Cup, and fancied England will be expected to overcome Cameroon, one of the best third-placed teams, in the tournament’s first game today in Valenciennes.
The West Africans are there courtesy of their late, late show against New Zealand last Thursday, a 95th minute goal securing their passage. In contrast, England have been a model of efficiency in winning each of their three group games, and you are left thinking there is more to come from this team.
The second match in Le Havre should prove the more interesting and attractive however. Brazil will sweat on the fitness of stars Marta and Formiga, the latter at 41 the oldest ever to play at the Women’s World Cup, and hope that they can halt a winless streak in knockout matches in the competition which stretches back twelve years.
Hosts France look very strong however and come into the game in confident mood having remained unbeaten in their last six finals matches (W5, D1). According to coach Corinne Diacre, Les Bleues are “fit and firing” and should progress provided they exploit defensive deficiencies detected in their opponent.
Canada are back in action this evening when they take on Cuba in Charlotte. The sides have one win apiece in their past meetings in Gold Cup play, but the Canucks are hot favourites for this one. The Cubans have had a dreadful time so far. They will be without captain and central defender Yasmany Lopez, reportedly defected, and Erick Rizo, who was red-carded in their defeat to Martinique.
Samuel Piette is expected to return in midfield, although Zachary Brault-Guillard is likely to miss out with Hearts defender, Marcus Godinho restored on the right side of defence.
The expected win for Canada will see them advance to the quarter-finals, and a probable meeting with Costa Rica in Houston, next Saturday.
Mexico should comfortably defeat Martinique in the evening’s other match-up, to complete Group A as winners.
Paraguay will look to defeat Colombia this afternoon, thus confirming runners-up spot in the group. The Colombians are 4 points clear and cannot be caught. A third consecutive draw does not necessarily end Paraguay’s involvement, however they will have to rely on other results to understand their fate.
Kicking off simultaneously in the other group match Argentina must defeat Qatar to progress, either as group runner-up, or one of the best third-placed teams. Either way, an Argentinian win this evening should guarantee progress.
Three games in AFCON today, with heavyweights Morocco, Senegal and Algeria all seeing action and all expected to win. Morocco face Namibia, who only just squeezed through the qualifiers due to a late Guinea-Bissau equalizer in Mozambique, after they thought they’d blown their chances, losing their final fixture 1-4 in Zambia.
Kenya is the opponent for Algeria who left midfielder Saphir Taider, back in Montreal. The Harambee Stars have qualified for the first time in 15 years and have never emerged successfully from the group stages in tournament history.
In Tanzania, Senegal will meet a country that has only ever qualified once for the finals, 39 years ago.
The way the fixtures have come out today provides a very lopsided look in terms of competition, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that one surprise result will occur.
The UEFA u21 tournament has as ever been a a joy to watch and follow. Plenty of goals, attacking football and a higher than usual degree of unpredictability are all features at this level of European competition, however expect Germany to confirm their place in the semi-finals with victory over Austria, although a draw will be enough.
Denmark with a win over Austria and defeat to Germany, both by 3-1 scoreline, will set themselves up as the best second-placed team at the expense of Italy, should they defeat pointless Serbia by at least three goals. This is conceivable and the Danes should feel encouraged. Serbia already eliminated, has so far scored only once, and conceded eight times.
Enjoy your viewing.
And if that’s not enough for you you may wish to tune into the MLS game at 1730, when Sporting Kansas City travel to Columbus Crew.
Today’s Games (all EST) -
1030 - Morocco v Namibia - African Cup of Nations - BeIN Sports Canada
1130 - England v Cameroon - Womens World Cup R16 - TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, TSN GO
1300 - Senegal v Tanzania - African Cup of Nations - BeIN Sports Canada
1500 - France v Brazil - Womens World Cup R16 - TSN1, TSN3, TSN GO, RDS
1500 - Austria u21 v Germany u21 - UEFA u21 Championship - UEFA TV, YouTube
1500 - Denmark u21 v Serbia u21 - UEFA u21 Championship - UEFA TV, YouTube
1500 - Qatar v Argentina - Copa America - TSN2, TSN GO
1500 - Colombia v Paraguay - Copa America - TSN GO
1600 - Algeria v Kenya - African Cup of Nations - BeIN Sports Canada
1800 - Canada v Cuba - Gold Cup - TSN1, TSN3, TSN.ca, TSN GO
2000 - Martinique v Mexico - Gold Cup - TSN1, TSN3, TSN.ca, TSN GO