Falconets Handed Tricky Group In U-20 Women’s World Cup

The Falconets have qualified for all editions of the U-20 World Cup. [email protected]_Falcons


The Falconets will face South Korea, Canada, and France in the U-20 Women’s World Cup after the draw was conducted at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica in San José on Thursday night. 

Nigeria were seeded in Pot 3 along with the US, Spain, and Mexico for the competition billed for August 10 to 28.

The top teams were seeded into pots based on their performances in the last five editions of the World Cup.

Africa’s other representatives, the Black Princesses of Ghana, are in Group D, alongside defending champions, Japan, the US, and the Netherlands.

Hosts Costa Rica, Australia, Spain, and Brazil are in Group A while Group B has Germany, Colombia, New Zealand, and Mexico.

The best two teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage. Every group game and quarter-final fixtures will be played at the Alejandro Morera Soto while the semi-final, final, and third-place matches will hold at the Estadio Nacional.

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Since the competition began, the Falconets have featured in all editions, their best outings second-place finishes in 2010 and 2014.

Coach Christopher Danjuma’s side qualified for the competition after a 7-1 aggregate win over the Young Lionesses of Teranga in the final round of qualification.

This year’s edition, which was rescheduled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, was supposed to hold in 2020. Nigeria crashed out of the last edition in 2018 at the quarter-final following defeat to Spain.

U-20 Women’s World Cup Groups And Teams

Below is a list of the teams and their groups for the age-grade competition: 

Group A: Costa Rica, Australia, Spain Brazil

Group B: Germany, Colombia, New Zealand, Mexico

Group C: France, Nigeria, Canada, Korea Republic

Group D: Japan, Netherlands, Ghana, USA

Costa Rica Legalises Same-Sex Marriage



Costa Rica legalised same-sex marriage on Tuesday, becoming the first Central American country to do so and sparking an emotional response from rights campaigners as the first weddings were held overnight.

Celebrations were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but a special program about LGBT rights was broadcast on public television and online after a court ruling came into force at midnight.

“This change will bring about a significant social and cultural transformation, allowing thousands of people to marry,” said President Carlos Alvarado in the program.

Costa Rica is the eighth country in the Americas to recognise same-sex marriage — a group that includes Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina, as well as Canada and the US.

The Supreme Court in August 2018 ruled that a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and gave parliament 18 months to amend the laws. It failed to do that, so the provision was automatically annulled.

“Costa Rica is celebrating today: marriage equality has become a reality in the country — the first one in Central America,” tweeted the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

“We rejoice with you: congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make it happen!”

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN’s Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, called the change “an extraordinary moment of celebration” in a tweet posted on Monday.

– Strong Catholic tradition –

He expressed “gratitude to the work of so many activists, and of quiet reflection of the lives of those who lived without seeing this moment”.

Moments after midnight, Dunia Araya and Alexandra Quiros tied the knot in a town northwest of the capital, San Jose. The young women, both dressed in white, took their vows before a notary wearing a face mask as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Costa Rica has a strong Catholic tradition and has also seen a proliferation of evangelical churches in recent decades. Many followers of those denominations are opposed to gay marriage.

Alvarado, a centrist, was elected to the presidency in April 2018 by comfortably seeing off a challenge from evangelical preacher Fabricio Alvarado, who campaigned against same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court decision complied with an opinion given by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, declaring that homosexual couples have the same rights to marry as heterosexual ones.


6.2-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Costa Rica’s Border


A 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Panama-Costa Rica border around midnight on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, revising earlier warnings of “significant damage”, as the tremor cut power supplies near the epicentre.

The quake struck at a depth of 26 kilometres (16 miles), about two kilometres from the nearest town of Progreso in Panama, USGS said, updating a previous alert that estimated the depth at 10 kilometres.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, and USGS said “the impact should be relatively localized”, reversing an earlier advisory that “past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.”

“Estimated economic losses are less than 1 per cent of GDP of Panama,” the website said.

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According to the National Seismological Network (RSN) in Costa Rica, the quake struck at 0523 GMT Wednesday (11.23 pm Tuesday) with its epicentre located 11 kilometres east of the Panamanian border town of Puerto Armuelles.

The tremor was felt in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose and in many parts of the Central American country, according to initial reports, but the national tsunami warning system said there was no risk of a tsunami.

Villagers in the south of Costa Rica fled their homes, fearing aftershocks. Two houses in the region were damaged by the quake, said Alexander Solis, president of the country’s National Emergency Commission.

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado said there were power cuts in several communities in the southwest of the country, near the epicentre.

In November 2017 a 6.5-magnitude quake on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica caused buildings to sway in San Jose and contributed to the deaths of two people who had heart attacks.

Further north, two months earlier a 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed more than 300 people in Mexico.


UPDATED: Brazil Beat Costa Rica 2-0, Edge Towards World Cup Last 16

Brazil’s forward Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 22, 2018. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP


Philippe Coutinho and Neymar broke down dogged Costa Rica in injury time on Friday, sealing a 2-0 win for Brazil that propels the five-time champions towards the World Cup last 16.

The Central Americans looked likely to hold on for a hard-earned draw, particularly after Neymar had a penalty award chalked off by referee Bjorn Kuipers after he consulted the Video Assistant Referee.

But Coutinho and Neymar finally broke through, scoring in the 91st and 97th minutes to put Tite’s side on the brink of the knockout stages.

At the final whistle, Neymar sat down on the grass and wept, with the emotion of victory hitting home after the tense Group E contest at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Neymar started despite limping out of training on Tuesday with a hurt ankle, which the Brazilian FA said was sustained as a result of snapping Swiss defenders.

After a ponderous start, Brazil enjoyed a gradual crescendo during the first period but their dominance in possession was not reflected in chances created.

Neymar faced the most devoted of markers in Costa Rica’s Cristian Gamboa, the Brazilian spending most of the half hopping over scything tackles or dodging past a barging shoulder.

It was a compelling battle. One sumptuous Neymar flick sent the ball flying over Gamboa’s head and later he made an excellent run onto Coutinho’s pass, only to squander the chance with a heavy touch.

Marcelo, Coutinho and Neymar, however, hardly make for the most conscientious combination out wide and when Johan Venegas ran clear down the right, his pullback should have been converted by Celso Borges, who skewed past the post.

Brazil might have had a penalty when Oscar Duarte blocked Paulinho at a corner and Costa Rica rode their luck again after the break, as Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho all went close.

Jesus’s header crashed against the crossbar and after some excellent work by Paulinho, Coutinho’s follow-up hit the ever-present Gamboa on the line.

Neymar fired over from Paulinho’s cutback and Coutinho shot straight at Keylor Navas after, again, Paulinho had teed it up.

With 20 minutes left, Gamboa made his first mistake and Neymar should have capitalised. A sloppy touch allowed the striker to cut inside from the left but his bending finish curved around the outside of the post.

There was more drama to come. With just over 10 minutes left, Neymar’s turn prompted Giancarlo Gonzalez to lose his footing and put his arm across the Brazilian’s chest.

Neymar arched back as if losing his balance before falling to the ground. Kuipers pointed to the spot but after reviewing the video replay, reversed his decision.

Frustration brewed but Costa Rica’s resistance was finally ended in the 91st minute.

Marcelo’s deep cross was kept alive by Roberto Firmino and a loose touch by Jesus dribbled perfectly into Coutinho’s path. Six yards out, he sidefooted home.

Costa Rica conceded again right at the death. Substitute Douglas Costa squared for Neymar to finally find the net.


Neymar Resumes Training Ahead Of Costa Rica Game

Brazil’s coach Tite (L) and Brazil’s forward Neymar are seen during a training session of Brazil national football team at Yug Sport Stadium, in Sochi, on June 19, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. Nelson Almeida / AFP


Neymar was back in training for Brazil on Wednesday ahead of their World Cup clash with Costa Rica, 24 hours after limping out of a session with an ankle problem.

“Brazil team training under way and Neymar participating normally,” tweeted the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

The session was closed to the media, but the CBF also posted a short video on their Twitter account showing Neymar in action at the team’s Sochi base.

On Tuesday, the world‘s most expensive player hobbled out of a session in full view of the cameras, complaining of a problem with his right ankle.

The Brazil camp said he was feeling the effects of a knock suffered in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening Group E outing.

They insisted the problem was not related to the fractured right foot that required surgery and saw Neymar miss the last three months of the club season for Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazil were due to fly to Saint Petersburg on Wednesday evening ahead of Friday’s game against Costa Rica there.


Costa Rican Striker, Urena To Have Surgery For Facial Fractures

Marco Urena #21 of Los Angeles FC is chased by Osvaldo Alonso #6 of Seattle Sounders during the first half of the inaugural home game at Banc of California Stadium on April 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP


Costa Rican striker, Marco Urena will have surgery to repair facial fractures and is expected to be out at least a month, Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC said Tuesday.

The news will be a concern for Costa Rica, coming a month and a half before the start of the World Cup in Russia.

Urena, who has been a key piece in LAFC’s strong start to their inaugural MLS season, was injured in a collision in the first half of the club’s 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday — LAFC’s first match in their new Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC said Urena would undergo surgery on Friday and be re-evaluated in four weeks, with the expected recovery time four to six weeks.

Costa Rica open their World Cup campaign in Russia on June 17 against Serbia and will also face Brazil and Switzerland in Group E.


Divided Over Gay Rights, Costa Rica Chooses New President

Voters check an electoral roll at a polling station in San Jose on April 1, 2018 during Costa Rica’s run-off election. Polling stations across Costa Rica opened early Sunday for a presidential election that has split the country between an ultra-conservative evangelical preacher who slams gay rights and a former minister from the center-left ruling party.
Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP


Polling stations across Costa Rica opened early Sunday for a presidential election that has split the country between an ultra-conservative evangelical preacher who slams gay rights and a former minister from the center-left ruling party.

The result will decide who rules the small Central American nation of five million people for the next four years.

Pre-vote surveys suggest a neck-and-neck race between Fabricio Alvarado, a right-wing 43-year-old preacher, journalist and singer, and Carlos Alvarado (no relation), a 38-year-old former journalist who was a labor minister in the outgoing government.

Fabricio Alvarado surged from nowhere in the first round of the election held in February, triumphing over a field of 13 candidates by fiercely criticizing gay marriage.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January urged the recognition of same-sex marriages, setting off a polarizing debate in Costa Rica. The country is both socially conservative and proud of its progressive human rights record.

– A ‘photo finish’? –

Carlos Alvarado, in contrast, ran on a broad campaign to tackle the priorities identified by his Citizens’ Action Party, which has been in power since 2014 under outgoing President Luis Guillermo Solis.

Those issues include reining in a steadily climbing deficit, boosting education and upholding ecological standards.

In the first round, the preacher won 25 percent of the ballots against 22 percent for the former labor minister — both well short of the 40 percent required to avoid a run-off.

The last pre-election survey in March suggested a very tight election: Fabricio Alvarado was credited with 43 percent support against 42 percent for Carlos Alvarado.

“Neither of the two candidates motivates me sufficiently to give my support,” the head of the small Liberal Progressive Party, Eli Feinzaig, wrote on his social media accounts.

“But, ultimately, one of them has done enough to earn my clear and unequivocal repudiation,” he said, declaring he would vote for Carlos Alvarado.

Winning over undecided or ambivalent voters was key for the candidates.

“The population still isn’t clear on what development model it wants,” a political analyst from the Latin American Social Sciences Institute, Gustavo Araya, told AFP.

“This is a photo finish. It isn’t statistically clear who will be the victor between these opposing platforms,” he said.

Some 3.3 million voters were being called to decide the election.

Polling was taking place on Easter Sunday, at the end of a four-day holiday weekend. Roads back to the capital San Jose were choked as many voters drove back home to cast their ballots.

Others had yet to make up their minds.

“Voting is so difficult. The two who are left aren’t to my taste. I don’t know if I’m going to vote. Truly, I’m undecided,” said Ligia Vargas, a street vendor who sells fruits and juice in the main city park.

Winds Seen As Factor In Costa Rica Plane Crash That Killed 12

The tail of the burned fuselage of a small plane that crashed is seen in Guanacaste, Corozalito, Costa Rica on December 31, 2017. Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP

Strong winds were seen as a factor in the crash of a small plane in Costa Rica that killed all 10 US passengers on board and two local crew members, according to officials and witnesses.

The accident, which occurred Sunday in the country’s northwestern Guanacaste region popular with tourists seeking pristine tropical beaches, killed all on board the small Cessna 208 Caravan owned and operated by domestic airline Nature Air.

The plane burst into flames on impact, according to rescue officials and locals.

Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation agency said the pilots had tried to land at Punta Islita earlier Sunday to get the passengers but aborted because of “the gusts of wind.”

The aircraft was up-to-date with its certifications and had been inspected a month earlier, the agency said.

“There had been a lot wind, really strong,” one resident in the area told AFP on Monday.

She said when she and other locals arrived at the crash site, up a steep hillside, “we couldn’t see, absolutely everything was black.”

She added: “The front part of the plane was all on fire, and the tail part was the only bit intact.”

Police and fire crews arrived within 25 minutes of the crash, which happened shortly after midday (1800 GMT), she said.

Another resident, Efrain Rojas, told the newspaper La Nacion that the plane was “too low” after take-off.

“It did a turn to the left. For us, it looked like some sort of problem, and it was trying to get back to the runway. With the turn it did, it had one wing up vertical, and the other hit the trees,” he said.

“When we arrived, it was all in flames…. The plane, when it came down, apparently exploded, caught fire,” he said.

‘All on fire’ 

The plane came down minutes after taking off from a small sealed airstrip in Punta Islita, a beachside town in Guanacaste, where the Americans had boarded.

“We can confirm the death of ten US citizens in an airplane crash in Costa Rica on December 31, 2017,” a US State Department official said by email on Monday.

“We express our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy,” the official said, adding that consular assistance was being extended.

An American family of five from the town of Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City, was wiped out in the crash, US media reported.

Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their three sons William, Zachary and Matthew were all killed while on a family vacation.

The other US victims were named as Thibault Astruc, Amanda Geissler, Charles Palmer, Leslie Weiss and Sherry Wuu.

The Costa Rican pilot was Juan Manuel Retana, 52. He was the cousin of former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla, who spoke of their ties on Twitter. His co-pilot was Emma Ramos, also Costa Rican.

Guanacaste is a popular vacation destination, especially this time of year, when US and European tourists arrive in bigger numbers for an end-of-year respite from the northern hemisphere’s winter.


U.S. Team Ready For Rematch With Costa Rica In Semi-Final

The United States men’s national team will look to avenge an embarrassing loss to Costa Rica when they take the field late Saturday night in the Gold Cup semi-final at AT&T Stadium in Texas.

The Americans will try to wash out the bad taste from November 2016 in Costa Rica, a 4-0 blowout by the Ticos in a World Cup qualifier that precipated the ouster of Jurgen Klinsmann as U.S. head coach.

“, I think we definitely evolved since the last time we faced them (Costa Rica), we definitely struggled on the road in Costa Rica but I think it’s a new game, we have a new team with a new group of guys, new feel and yeah I think as our game’s going on we’re progressively getting better, I mean Costa Rica has been a great team, they’ve fared well in the tournament, they haven’t allowed too many goals so I mean it’s gonna be a tough matchup but I think we’re ready.

” I know the guys and me we’re ready to go out there because we’re one step away from the final, I mean at the end of the day we came into this Gold Cup to win it, not just to compete but we’re trying to hold some silver at the end.”

New head coach Bruce Arena has the U.S. playing better over the past several months and expects the match against Costa Rica to play out much differently than November.

“Well they are a very good team with a very good defensive record, all things indicate it will be a low scoring game and so certainly the U.S. will do very well to get an early goal,” Arena said at a news conference.

The other Gold Cup semi-final will see Mexico face off against Jamaica Sunday night at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles with the final taking place Wednesday just outside of San Francisco.

3.2 Billion People At Risk Of Malaria Globally – Who Report

malaria attack The World Health Organisation (WHO), says about 3.2 billion people remain at risk to malaria attack globally.

A WHO report released on Monday on World Malaria Day entitled: “Eliminating Malaria”says that in 2015 alone, 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries and no fewer than 400,000 people died of the disease.

The report is coming a year after the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate malaria from at least 35 countries by 2030. The report shows the goal, although ambitious, is achievable.

In 2015, all countries in the WHO European Region reported, for the first time, zero indigenous cases of malaria, down from 90 000 cases in 1995. Outside this region, eight countries reported zero cases of the disease in 2014 – Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates.

A statement by a spokesperson for WHO, Christian Lindmeier, said, the “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030”, approved by the World Health Assembly in 2015, calls for the elimination of local transmission of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020.

WHO’s estimates show that 21 countries are in a position to achieve this goal, including six countries in the African region, where the burden of the disease is heaviest.

“Our report shines a spotlight on countries that are well on their way to eliminating malaria,” the Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr Pedro Alonso said.

“WHO commends these countries while also highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in settings with high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa. Saving lives must be our first priority.”

Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under five years.

WHO pointed out that reaching the goals of the “Global Technical Strategy” would require a steep increase in global and domestic funding—from $2.5 billion today to an estimated $8.7 billion annually by 2030.

“Through robust financing and political will, affected countries can speed progress towards malaria elimination and contribute to the broader development agenda as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” it stressed.

Cuba: President Raul Castro Warns Obama Against Interference

cubaThe President of Cuba, Raul Castro said on Wednesday that his country would not accept any interference from the United States warning that meddling in its internal affairs would make harmonisation between the two countries “meaningless.”

Castro’s remarks came in after the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Roberta Jacobson, last week met with dissidents a day after talks with Cuban government officials. 

Castro said during the summit in Costa Rica that: “Everything appears to indicate that the aim is to foment an artificial political opposition via economic, political and communication means. If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States would be meaningless.”

However, the Cuba President made it clear that he was committed to the talks despite his concern that Washington might try to whip up internal opposition within Cuba through greater telecommunication technology.

Castro also urged U.S. President, Barack Obama, to use executive powers to ease a decades-long embargo against his country, saying Washington could extend measures like those announced for telecoms to other areas of of the economy.

Obama’s new policy specifically singled out telecoms in Cuba as an area that Washington is willing to allow U.S. companies to invest, and for its part Havana has said it is ready to let that happen.

Castro said Obama’s decision to hold a debate in Congress about eliminating the embargo was “significant,” saying it will be a long and hard road.

The United States and Cuba had historic high-level talks in Havana last week, to the re-establishment of diplomatic ties severed by Washington in 1961.

Obama needs approval from the Republican controlled Congress to completely normalise relations with Cuba, and Republicans.


Real Madrid Must Stay 100 Percent Focused – Keylor Navas

Real MadridGoalkeeper, Keylor Navas, has warned that Real Madrid should avoid any mistake and stay focused as they reach the halfway stage of the season atop the La Liga.

The reigning European champions have achieved a club-record, 19-game winning streak, after recovering from a shaky start to 2014-15.

Their good run could be extended again on Friday when they travel to Almeria in their final Primera Division game of 2014.

With the team two points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga, they head to Morocco to take part in the Club World Cup.

However, Costa Rica international, Navas, who joined from Levante during the summer, has warned his team-mates not to let their concentration slip as the winter break approaches.

“This team cannot make mistakes, we must stay focused 100 per cent and work to be prepared at that time.

“Every victory is celebrated, we are delighted when we win. We know we’re at a winning club where you have to triumph; every game that brings us closer to our goals of being champions,” he told Goal.com.

The shot-stopper is also thrilled to have played a part in Real Madrid’s last two UEFA Champions League wins, despite having largely been second choice to Iker Casillas since his arrival.

“It’s amazing to be at Real Madrid,” he added. “It’s a dream for any player that, when it becomes a reality, is difficult to explain.

“I think about everything I’ve been through to get here. Playing in the Champions League … I enjoyed it from the moment we left the changing room. The only way I’d heard that anthem before was on television and being there was a dream come true.

“I always wanted to win titles and now I have the chance. I try to adapt, to commit and to contribute. The road is hard, there will be barriers, but I’m willing to work hard for many titles here.”