World Cup: Falconets Defy Downpour To Defeat France In Opening Game

In form, Sabastine Flourish finished off coolly in the 85th minute to hand Nigeria the one-nil victory over a stubborn French side at San Jose, Costa Rica on August 12, 2022. Credit: FIFA
In form Sabastine Flourish finished off coolly in the 85th minute to hand Nigeria the one-nil victory over a stubborn French side at San Jose, Costa Rica on August 12, 2022. Credit: FIFA

 

Nigeria’s Falconets defied the heavy rain in San Jose to beat the Little Blues of France in their opening game at the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup.

In form Sabastine Flourish finished off coolly in the 85th minute to hand Nigeria the one-nil victory over a stubborn French side at San Jose, Costa Rica.

Coach Chris Danjuma’s side began the game on a fine note and caused some panic for the Europeans amid the rains which poured harder on the pitch, causing poor visibility for the players and match officials. Centre referee Francia Gonzales was then forced to stop play in the 20th minute due to the weather conditions. The game was, however, restarted after one hour.

Less than ten minutes after the restart, the French side had to head off the ball from the goal as the Falconets continued to surge forward. While no side was able to score in the first half, the second half was an even stiffer competition.

READ ALSO: [U-20 Women’s W/Cup] Nigeria’s Falconets Target Glory In Costa Rica

Sabastine Flourish scored the only goal as the Falconets defeated France in their opening game of the 2022 U-20 FIFA World Cup in Costa Rica on August 12, 2022. Credit: FIFA
Sabastine Flourish scored the only goal as the Falconets defeated France in their opening game of the 2022 U-20 FIFA World Cup in Costa Rica on August 12, 2022. Credit: FIFA

 

Both teams defended and attacked with resoluteness in the quest for the opening goal. France were to benefit from a goalmouth scramble in the 80th minute. Substitute Jade Nassi’s goal after a corner kick from the European did not, however, count after it was overruled by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for a foul on the Nigerian goalkeeper Oyoyo Omini.

As the game flowed from end to end and both sides looking for a late goal, the 2014 runners-up took the lead with just five minutes to normal time. Flourish, who was the highest goalscorer in the African qualification series, finished off a defence-splitting pass from Mercy Idoko to send the ball past goalkeeper Marie-Morgane Sieber.

Nigeria were runners-up in 2010 and 2014. Photo: Twitter@FIFAWWC
Nigeria were runners-up in 2010 and 2014. Photo: [email protected]

 

With the win, a victory over Korea DPR in Nigeria’s second match on Sunday will guarantee the Africans a slot in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Heat, Drought Rekindle Huge Wildfire In Southwest France

A firefighter walks in front of trees in flame during a wildfire in Boyne, southern France, in the “Grands Causses natural park” on August 9, 2022. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP)

 

A fire that destroyed thousands of hectares of tinder-dry forest in southwest France has flared again amid a fierce drought and the summer’s latest wave of extreme heat, officials said Wednesday.

An additional 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of pine forest have burned in the so-called Landiras blaze since Tuesday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of around 6,000 people, Gironde regional officials said in a statement.

“The fire is extremely violent and has spread to the Landes department” further south, home of the Landes de Gascogne regional park, the prefecture said, and further evacuations are likely.

“It’s a major fire… much more intense and fast-moving” than at the height of the Landiras blaze that ignited in July, Marc Vermeulen of the regional fire-fighting authority told journalists.

No one has been injured in the coastal area that draws huge summer tourism crowds but 16 houses were destroyed or damaged near the village of Belin-Beliet.

The fire was spreading toward the A63 motorway, a major artery linking Bordeaux to Spain, with thick smoke forcing the road’s closure between Bordeaux and Bayonne.

The Landiras fire was the largest of several that have raged this year in southwest France, which has been buffeted by record drought and a series of heat waves.

Arsonists set some of the fires and officials initially suspected a criminal origin for the Landiras blaze. Police later released a suspect for lack of evidence.

Around 500 firefighters are on the scene, supported by water-dropping planes.

The Gironde prefect, Martin Guespereau, said Wednesday “the risks are very high” and that adverse weather conditions will allow the fire to spread further.

“The weather is very unfavourable because of the heat, the dry air, the record drought and the fact that there is a lot of peat in the ground… the fire didn’t go out in July, it went underground,” he told journalists.

The Landiras fire and a second large blaze near Arcachon burned a combined 21,000 hectares and forced more than 36,000 people to evacuate before they were brought under control — but not fully extinguished.

Wildfires have also ignited in the dry hills of the southeast and even in the normally lush areas of Brittany along the English Channel.

On Wednesday, officials in western France said a forest fire near Angers and Le Mans has burned 1,200 hectares since Monday as nearly 400 firefighters struggle to contain it.

-AFP

Man Kills Three Children, Two Family Members In France

French gendarmes stand guard near a deviation sign for the road leading to the house in which a man suspected of having shot five people, barricaded himself” before he was shot by the GIGN (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) in Douvres, center eastern France, on July 20, 2022. (Photo by Jean-Philippe KSIAZEK / AFP)

 

Police shot dead a man in his twenties in rural eastern France on Wednesday after he murdered five members of his family before barricading himself in a village home, local sources told AFP.

Special forces from the French police department were deployed in the village of Douvres in the foothills of the Alps about 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Lyon from Tuesday night.

Christian Limousin, mayor of a neighbouring village, said the suspect had killed five members of his own family, including three children, before being gunned down by police as they stormed the property.

Neither the police nor the local prosecutor’s office confirmed the identity of the victims.

The latest mass crime scene came after a triple homicide in the provincial town of Angers at the weekend when a Sudanese refugee stabbed three young rugby players to death after an argument in the street.

Elsewhere in France, a woman police officer in the town of Dreux west of Paris shot dead a man who lunged at her with a sword following a domestic dispute on Saturday evening, prosecutors said.

Fear of crime was one of the leading campaign issues during presidential and parliamentary elections in France this year which saw the anti-immigration and far-right National Rally party make historic gains.

AFP

Heatwave Grips Spain As UK Readies For Soaring Temperatures

Beachgoers gather under parasols at Sokoa Beach, southwestern France, on June 18, 2022, as heatwave conditions sweep across France and western Europe.  GAIZKA IROZ / AFP

 

Spain and Portugal were sweltering in their second heatwave in a month on Monday, with scorching temperatures also expected in France and Britain in the coming days.

People in Spain baked with the temperature in the central town of Candeleda hitting a stifling 43.3 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) shortly after 6 pm (1600 GMT), according to Spain’s meteorological agency AEMET.

The mercury meanwhile hit 42.4C in the southern city of Seville.

The southwestern cities of Badajoz and Merida also saw temperatures of 42C.

AEMET forecast 46C in Badajoz on Thursday and Friday with Seville predicted to swelter in 45C on Wednesday and Thursday.

READ ALSO: EU Braces For Migrants Spurred By Food Crisis

“This heatwave really has the potential to be exceptional,” said AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo.

The current temperature surge began Sunday and could “last nine or ten days, which would make it one of the three longest heat waves Spain has seen since 1975,” he told AFP.

Heatwaves have become more frequent due to climate change, scientists say. As global temperatures rise over time, heatwaves are expected to become more intense.

June had already seen Spain grapple with temperatures above 40C in swathes of the country.

The previous month was Spain’s hottest May since the beginning of the century.

In August 2021 Spain recorded its highest ever temperature when the mercury reached 47.4C in the small southern town of Montoro.

Meteorologists did not rule out the prospect of that record being broken in the coming days.

The heightened temperatures have been accompanied by a lack of rainfall.

Reservoirs in Spain stood at 45.3 percent of capacity on Monday, well below the average of 65.7 percent recorded during the same period over the past decade.

In neighbouring Portugal temperatures topped 44C over the weekend, fuelling wildfires and vast smoke clouds which were visible in the capital Lisbon.

Firefighters brought the largest blaze under control on Monday after it had burned through swathes of the central municipality of Ourem, local officials said.

‘Maximum risk’

While temperatures eased somewhat in Portugal on Monday they were expected to soar again in the coming days with 44C forecast for the southeastern city of Evora.

“In the coming days we will experience conditions of maximum risk,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

“The slightest lapse in vigilance could result in a fire of significant proportions.”

A front of hot air began pushing into France on Monday, with the mercury rising above 30C across much of the country, according to national weather forecaster Meteo-France.

Temperatures could hit 39C in some parts of France on Tuesday, it added.

The heat wave should reach its peak between Saturday and next Tuesday, said Sebastien Leas of Meteo-France.

Britain on Monday issued an extreme heat warning, with temperatures predicted to hit more than 30C across large parts of England and Wales.

The extreme heat warning was classified as “amber”, the second-highest alert level, indicating a “high impact” on daily life and people.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Rebekah Sherwin said the UK highs would continue into early next week.

“From Sunday and into Monday, temperatures are likely to be in excess of 35C in the southeast (of England), although the details still remain uncertain,” she said.

 

AFP

France Seeks Full Gas Reserves As Russia Cuts Supplies

 In this file photo taken on November 08, 2011 the Nordstream gas pipeline terminal is pictured prior to an inaugural ceremony for the first of Nord Stream's twin 1,224 kilometre gas pipeline through the baltic sea, in Lubmin November 8, 2011. John MACDOUGALL / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 08, 2011 the Nordstream gas pipeline terminal is pictured prior to an inaugural ceremony for the first of Nord Stream’s twin 1,224 kilometre gas pipeline through the baltic sea, in Lubmin November 8, 2011. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

The French government said Thursday it aims to have its natural gas reserves at full capacity by autumn as European countries brace for supply cuts from major supplier Russia with the Ukraine war draging on.

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said.

She added that France will also build a new floating terminal to receive more gas supplies by ship.

READ ALSO: US Says NATO Commitment To Lithuania ‘Ironclad’ After Russia Threat

“We can do without Russian gas,” French Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said later on BFM Business TV.

That depends on the floating terminals beginning operating as planned and France filling its strategic reserve, she added.

 

AFP

French Army Quits Mali Base Ahead Of Total Pullout

French army soldiers disembark from an VBMR Griffon armoured vehicle as they take part in a demonstration at the Eurosatory international land and airland defence and security trade fair, in Villepinte, a northern suburb of Paris, on June 12, 2022. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP
French army soldiers disembark from an VBMR Griffon armoured vehicle as they take part in a demonstration at the Eurosatory international land and airland defence and security trade fair, in Villepinte, a northern suburb of Paris, on June 12, 2022. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP

 

French troops were on Monday handing back a military base in northeastern Mali ahead of a final withdrawal from the Sahel nation, France’s army said, after nine years fighting a jihadist insurgency.

And the UN’s emissary there warned that their withdrawal could leave Menaka, where they were based, vulnerable to a jihadist attack.

The departure from the Menaka base “was conducted in good order, safely and in transparent fashion”, said French army spokesman General Pascal Ianni in Paris.

READ ALSO: Guinea-Bissau President Sacks Three Ministers Just After One Day

It comes ahead of the last withdrawal from Mali “at the end of the summer” when France’s main military base at Gao will be returned to Malian forces, he added.

But El-Ghassim Wane, the UN Secretary General’s special representative in Mali, warned that the pull-out could spell trouble for Menaka.

He had visited the town two weeks ago, he said, and people there he had spoken to “did not rule out an attack on Menaka town”, where 5,000 people forced to flee the violence in the region had taken shelter.

“Should this scenario come to pass, the MINUSMA base is likely to be perceived as the last haven for civilians fleeing violence,” Wane added, referring to the base of the UN peacekeeping force in Mali.

But he warned: “With minimal Malian forces in the area and some 600 peacekeepers available to protect civilians, UN personnel and assets, MINUSMA’s ability to mount an effective response is limited.”

Deteriorating relations

Former colonial ruler France set up the Menaka outpost in 2018 in the wild tri-border zone where Mali meets Niger and Burkina Faso. It housed French and European special forces under the name Takuba tasked with training up local troops.

General Ianni told journalists the Takuba operation would not be transferred to neighbouring Niger.

France launched anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel in 2013, helping Mali snuff out a revolt in the north.

But the jihadists regrouped to attack the volatile centre of the country, initiating a fiery insurgency that elected president Ibrahim Bubacar Keita was unable to crush.

In August 2020, protests against Keita culminated in a coup by disgruntled colonels — followed by a second military takeover in May 2021.

From then on, relations with France went steadily downhill, propelled by the junta’s resistance to setting an early date to restore civilian rule and by Bamako’s charges that France was inciting the region to take a hard line against it.

The bust-up accelerated in 2021 as the junta wove closer ties with Moscow, bringing in “military instructors” that France and its allies condemned as mercenaries hired from the pro-Kremlin Wagner group.

France not quitting Sahel

The French operation across the Sahel counted at its peak in 2020 some 5,500 troops before Paris started to reduce the numbers gradually and close the most forward bases at Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu in northern Mali.

Last January, the French ambassador to Bamako was expelled and the following month President Emmanuel Macron announced the total withdrawal from Mali as relations and security deteriorated.

However, the army said Monday that French forces were not quitting the Sahel region.

“The commitment to the struggle against terrorism, alongside the states of the region, at their request, remains an absolute priority,” the spokesman said.

AFP

Australia Agrees 555 Million Euro Settlement With France’s Naval Group

The HMAS Waller, a Collins-class submarine operated by the Royal Australian Navy. (File photo: AFP)

 

 

Australia on Saturday announced a massive compensation deal with France’s Naval Group for scrapping a landmark contract to build a fleet of diesel submarines.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the French firm had agreed to a “fair and an equitable settlement” of 555 million euros (US$584 million) for ending the multi-billion-dollar contract.

The agreement draws a line under a bitter spat that derailed ties between Canberra and Paris for the better part of a year.

In September 2021, then-Australian prime minister Scott Morrison abruptly ripped up the French contract, which was years in the making.

He announced that Australia would be buying US or British nuclear-powered submarines, a major shift for a country with little domestic nuclear capability.

The decision drew fury from French President Emmanuel Macron, who publicly accused Morrison of deceit.

Relations were on ice until this May, when centre-left leader Albanese was elected.

The submarine contract is the centrepiece of Australia’s race to develop its military capabilities, as it fears the threat from a more bellicose China under President Xi Jinping.

The nuclear-powered submarines are likely to give Australia the ability to operate more stealthily and pose much more of a deterrent to China.

But there remains deep uncertainty about how quickly it can be implemented.

The first US or British submarines likely will not be in the water for decades, leaving a long capability gap as Australia’s existing fleet ages.

Ex-Janitor Accused Of Serial Rapes Goes On Trial In France

Trial of Dino Scala: the “rapist of the Sambre” appears for 56 rapes and sexual assaults.

 

 

A former janitor accused of dozens of rapes and sexual assaults in France and Belgium over several decades will go on trial in France on Friday, after admitting to a spate of assaults.

Dino Scala, known as the “Rapist of the Sambre” — after the river near several towns along the France-Belgium border where he operated — was arrested in 2018 in northern France.

He confessed to around 40 rapes and assaults he attributed to uncontrollable “compulsions”.

The youngest victim was 13, the oldest 48, and most were attacked the same way — surprised on deserted streets in the early hours of winter, strangled and dragged into nearby bushes or trees.

Scala, now 61, is a former janitor at an industrial site who was also head of a local football club, and was described as well-integrated and sociable by locals in his town of Pont-sur-Sambre after his arrest.

“He has confessed freely since the beginning” and wants “to explain himself and answer the questions,” his lawyer Margaux Mathieu said.

He is charged with 17 accounts of rape, 12 attempted rapes and 27 sexual assaults or attempts — for 56 victims in total, though investigators suspect there were other victims who did not come forward to police.

“They hope to finally put what happened to them behind them, have the beginning of an explanation, and be heard and understood,” a lawyer for three of his accusers, Caty Richard, said.

Police sought the suspect in November 1996, when a 28-year-old woman said she was raped alongside a motorway near Maubeuge. Investigators found the attacker’s DNA at the scene but found no matches in police databases.

Other similar attacks followed, with more than 15 alleged victims over two years.

Despite increased patrols, the assailant was never found and the case was closed in 2003.

But three years later a new series of assaults in Belgium relaunched the inquiry, and police began to suspect that other earlier cases in the area might be linked to the same man.

It was only in February 2018, when a teenager was assault in Erquelinnes, Belgium, that video surveillance cameras spotted a Peugeot car at the scene, and Scala was arrested a few weeks later.

A knife, gloves and cords that could serve as garrottes were found during searches, and DNA matches were made at several of the crime scenes.

After his arrest he told investigators how he carried out his attacks.

“I hung around… I watched where women would pass by,” he said.

“I like to be secretive and hide… I have the nature of a hunter.”

Denmark Recover From Benzema Strike To Beat France In Nations League

Denmark's forward Andreas Cornelius celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Nations League - League A Group 1 first leg football match between France and Denmark at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on June 3, 2022. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
Denmark’s forward Andreas Cornelius celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Nations League – League A Group 1 first leg football match between France and Denmark at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on June 3, 2022. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

Substitute Andreas Cornelius scored twice as Denmark recovered from conceding to a brilliant Karim Benzema goal to beat France 2-1 on Friday in the UEFA Nations League at the Stade de France, the first match at the venue since the chaos that marred last weekend’s Champions League final.

Benzema’s stunning strike put World Cup holders France in front six minutes after half-time, only for Trabzonspor striker Cornelius to turn in Denmark’s equaliser midway through the second half and then smash in an 88th-minute winner.

That meant it was a disappointing night for France who also saw both Kylian Mbappe and Raphael Varane come off with knocks.

There was a near-full house of 75,833 inside the Stade de France, including 1,400 Danish supporters, but the atmosphere outside the ground ahead of kick-off was calm.

READ ALSO: Nadal Into 14th French Open Final As Zverev Quits With Horror Injury

That was in stark contrast to the scenes six days earlier, when serious organisational problems led to fans being unable to get into the stadium while many peaceful supporters were tear-gassed ahead of Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final.

European football’s governing body UEFA on Friday issued an apology to those spectators for what it admitted was a “frightening and distressing” experience for those involved.

Because of the pandemic, Friday’s match was the first France national football team game at the stadium without crowd restrictions since November 2019.

Home supporters were hoping to see Les Bleus start with a victory as they defend the Nations League title they won last year by beating Spain in the final.

This was the first of four matches they will play this month in League A, Group 1 before their players can depart on holiday, and the game did not really come to life in the first half.

Mbappe, Varane come off

France, whose coach Didier Deschamps was absent following the death of his father, were then dealt a blow when Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe pulled up with an apparent knee knock just before the interval.

He did not reappear after the break, with Christopher Nkunku taking his place, and the RB Leipzig forward played a part in the opening goal in the 51st minute.

Benzema, on the same ground where he won the Champions League with Real Madrid last weekend, collected the ball on the right, played a one-two with Nkunku and left the Danish defence for dead before slotting in on the occasion of his 95th cap.

The home side then saw Manchester United centre-back Varane also hobble off, with William Saliba replacing him, and Denmark capitalised as they turned the match on its head.

Cornelius had not long been on the field when he appeared completely unmarked in the area to apply a first-time finish to Pierre-Emile Hojberg’s floated assist.

Hugo Lloris kept out Andreas Skov Olsen’s rasping drive shortly after, before N’Golo Kante crashed an effort off the woodwork at the other end.

Eriksen then squandered a great chance to put the away side in front in the 86th minute as Lloris denied his former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate from point-blank range.

However, the Danes did win it moments later as Cornelius beat the offside trap before running through and holding off Saliba to somehow fire past Lloris from a tight angle.

The result is a warning for France, who will be in the same group as Denmark at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

The sides will be in Nations League action again on Monday with France away to Croatia and Denmark in Austria.

France Sees EU Membership For Ukraine In ’15 Or 20 Years’ – Minister

File photo: France’s Minister for European affairs Clement Beaune (L) and France’s Junior Minister for Foreign Trade Franck Riester attend the handover ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, on May 21, 2022. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

 

A bid by Ukraine to join the European Union would not be finalised for “15 or 20 years,” France’s Europe minister said Sunday, rejecting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hopes for a quick entry in the wake of Russia’s invasion of his country.

“We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you’re lying,” Clement Beaune told Radio J. “It’s probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time.”

“I don’t want to offer Ukrainians any illusions or lies,” he said, reiterating an offer by President Emmanuel Macron to create a looser “European political community” that could help integrate Ukraine with the bloc sooner.

That offer has received a cold welcome from Zelensky, who on Saturday denounced “such compromises” and insisted on an immediate start of the process towards full EU membership.

READ ALSO: Mbappe In Position Of Power At PSG After Agreeing To New Deal

But Beaune said Macron’s proposal is not “an alternative to joining the European political community. It doesn’t prevent membership later on.”

Under Macron’s plan, “there could be free circulation in Europe, and it could benefit from the European budget for reconstruction and the revival of its country, society and economy,” he said.

Other EU leaders have also shown little appetite for a quick welcome of Ukraine, whose pro-Western aspirations are seen as a main reason Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of the country on February 24.

Macron’s “European political community” initiative will be debated at an EU summit in late June.

Tourist Plane Crash Kills Four Members Of Same Family In France

File photo: A map showing the location of France

 

Five people, including four members of the same family, were killed in a tourist plane crash in the French Alps on Saturday, rescue services said.

The accident happened in the afternoon shortly after take-off from the Versoud airfield near Grenoble in southeast France, for what should have been a half-hour flight.

READ ALSO: Parents And Child Drown In France After Wave Hits Coast

Eye-witnesses to the crash tipped off the emergency services, who found the bodies of four adults and a child inside the plane’s burnt-out wreckage.

Around 60 firefighters were deployed to the site to put out the fire.

Grenoble prosecutors have ordered an investigation into what happened, said regional officials.

 

AFP

Parents And Child Drown In France After Wave Hits Coast

Caught by the sea. A mother, a father and one of their four children were swept away by a wave while they were walking on a dike.

 

 

Two parents and their child died in western France after a powerful wave swept them out to sea as they were fishing on a dyke in Brittany, authorities said Friday.

The 55-year-old father and 33-year-old mother were pulled out of the water early Thursday evening in the western town of Plogoff in cardiac arrest but rescuers were unable to resuscitate them.

The body of the 12-year-old child was found later in the evening.

Three other children of the family, aged 13 to 15, were not on the dyke and survived the surprise wave but were in shock and being treated by psychological services.

There were strong waves at the time but the weather conditions were not stormy, a spokesperson for maritime officials said.

Witnesses immediately called rescuers who dispatched paramedics and three helicopters to search for the victims, who lived in the nearby town of Audierne.

“There are circumstances that make the coast dangerous around here. I’m warning people, you have to be extremely careful,” Plogoff Mayor Joel Yvenou told the local Telegramme newspaper.

“It’s terrible, the season hasn’t begun yet and there are already victims,” he added.