Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz now know their opponents in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand after the draw on Saturday in New Zealand.

The Girlz have been drawn in Group F alongside powerhouses Brazil, France and either Taiwan, Panama, Paraguay or Papua New Guinea.

Brazil has been to nine World Cups with their best result being runners-up in 2007 while the French have been to five, most notably finishing fourth in 2011.

Jamaica will open their campaign against France on July 25 in Sydney before facing Chinese Taipei/Panama/Paraguay/Papua New Guinea on July 29 in Perth then battling Brazil on August 2 in Melbourne.

“Excitement,” was Reggae Girlz head coach Lorne Donaldson’s reaction when asked about the draw.

“It was a long day of anticipating. The draw itself was a draw with some exciting teams that play good football so we have to come out and try to match them.”

Jamaica was also drawn against Brazil in the 2019 World Cup, suffering a 0-3 loss in Grenoble.

“This is a totally different Brazil side. It’s a younger team with a different coach. Obviously, we have our work cut out against a fast, skillful Brazilian team so we have to be ready.”

Ronaldo Nazario ranks himself alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona as part of a "very special group" of football's greatest ever players. 

Legendary forward Ronaldo led Brazil to their most recent World Cup triumph 20 years ago, scoring eight goals as Luiz Felipe Scolari's team sealed the country's fifth title in Japan and South Korea.

No Brazilian has ever bettered Ronaldo's tally at a single edition of the tournament, while his total return of 15 World Cup goals has only been beaten by Germany's Miroslav Klose (16).  

While Ronaldo believes his exploits put him in the pantheon of footballing greats, he told the Guardian it was difficult to compare his abilities to those of players from different generations.

Asked to choose between seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and another Argentina icon in Maradona, Ronaldo said: "That's unfair! 

"I think there is a very, very special group where you have Diego, Messi, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, Pele, [Marco] Van Basten, Ronaldinho. I would include myself. 

 

"Let the fans say, let them debate it in the bars. But you can't rank them, can't compare generations. 

"People call me the 'original' Ronaldo but there were others – and they weren't false. 

"I'm not the only one, and more will come along and be better than me in everything. I did what I could, the best I could."

Brazil's hopes of repeating their 2002 World Cup win will depend largely on the form of Neymar, who has been involved in 42 per cent of the Selecao's World Cup goals since making his tournament debut in 2014 (8/19 – six goals, two assists).

Ronaldo compared the abilities of the Paris Saint-Germain forward to those of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting no football fan could fail to enjoy watching him play. 

"People love him a lot," Ronaldo added of Neymar. "If we talk specifically about football, I doubt there's anyone who doesn't love him. His private life transcends football, but I'm not interested. 

"He's daring, has skill, variety, is quick, scores goals, has personality. You could compare him to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, even though they are from a different planet. 

"On the pitch Neymar is one [thing], then people mix in all the other stuff."

 

Former Brazil forward Ronaldo admits he would "love" to see Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti take the reins of the Selecao, stating it would be a "historic" move.

With the Qatar 2022 World Cup set to start next month, Tite's side are bidding to break a two-decade European hold on the sport's greatest prize, led by talents such as Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

But regardless of their ultimate tournament performance, the 61-year-old's tenure in charge could well be coming to an end, with pundits floating the Manchester City and Real Madrid bosses as potential successors.

In a country where the national team has always been led by a native, there is significant pushback to the suggestion of an outsider - but Ronaldo believes it could prove a watershed moment for the Selecao.

"I would love it," Brazil great Ronaldo told The Guardian. "A European not just with the Brazilian national team but the entire Brazilian football industry.

"A Pep or an Ancelotti could be historic, it could change our history for 100 years."

Brazil last won the World Cup at Korea-Japan 2002, and entered the 2014 edition - which they hosted - as home favourites, before a stunning 7-1 semi-final collapse against Germany.

As a squad headlined by Neymar - who is closing in on Pele's Selecao goalscoring record - prepares for their latest tilt however, Ronaldo sees no reason why they cannot break their barren run this time around.

"There's been a European dominance," he acknowledged. "France, Spain and Germany are always there. England produced a great Euros [campaign].

"But Argentina have gone 35 unbeaten. Brazil look very good, although that doesn’t count for anything.

"In Brazil, we want to win. Let's see what Tite does. He has options up front, very good ones.

"Vinícius has to start – he would start in any team in the world. On the right, Raphinha is playing incredibly, but we have Rodrygo, who would get in anywhere. Then there's Neymar. He's got the desire."

Antonio Conte allayed fears of Richarlison missing the World Cup, but confirmed he will not be available for Tottenham's game with Manchester United on Wednesday.

Richarlison suffered a calf injury in Spurs' 2-0 victory over his former team Everton and was taken off in the 52nd minute before later being seen on crutches, causing concern he could face a race against time to be fit for Brazil's World Cup opener against Serbia on November 24.

In a tearful interview after the game, Richarlison told ESPN Brazil: "It's kind of hard to say because it's close to the realisation of my dream."

But when questioned over Richarlison potentially missing the World Cup, Conte had an optimistic message.

"The injury of Richarlison, he's [having] a scan and then we will see how long he needs to recover," Conte told reporters. "But for sure against United, he's not available.

"I can confirm that the player is not risking not playing the World Cup, absolutely."

Conte was unsure whether Richarlison's fellow forward Dejan Kulusevski would be fit for Wednesday's game at Old Trafford, after the Sweden international missed the Everton match with a hamstring injury.

"Kulusevski is working, we'll see," Conte added. "We have to go day by day with him.

"The medical department are working a lot to try to recover him, but we don't know about the game against United."

Juventus have confirmed defender Bremer has sustained a hamstring injury that will keep him out for close to three weeks.

Bremer, who signed for Juve from Torino ahead of this season, has started all 10 of the Bianconeri's Serie A games this season.

The 25-year-old made his debut for Brazil in September, playing 44 minutes as a substitute in a 3-0 friendly defeat of Ghana.

However, he now faces a race to be fit in time to make Tite's squad for the World Cup.

Juve confirmed on Monday that Bremer, who was taken off in the 52nd minute of Saturday's win over his former side Torino, had suffered a "low-grade lesion to the hamstring of the left thigh."

Bremer faces approximately 20 days out of action, meaning he will miss games against Empoli, Benfica, Lecce, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter but might be fit to feature for Juve in matches against Verona and Lazio ahead of the break for the World Cup, which starts on November 20.

Brazil's first game sees them take on Serbia four days later. While Bremer's place in Tite's squad was by no means guaranteed, the Selecao will be hoping Tottenham forward Richarlison – who has been a key player in recent seasons – recovers from a calf injury in time to make it to Qatar.

Tottenham forward Richarlison tearfully admitted he fears the injury sustained in Saturday's win over Everton could crush his dream of representing Brazil at the World Cup.

Richarlison was substituted early on in the second half of Spurs' 2-0 Premier League victory against his former side Everton at Goodison Park with a calf injury.

The 25-year-old left the stadium on crutches and will undergo an MRI scan on Monday, but he has already been ruled out of Wednesday's trip to Manchester United.

He missed a month of action last season with a similar injury and is now worried about a comparable lay-off, with Brazil facing Serbia in their tournament opener on November 24.

"It's so close to the realisation of my dream," he told ESPN Brasil with tears in his eyes. "I've already suffered a similar injury to this, but I hope it can heal as soon as possible.

"It's hard to talk at this moment, but let's see, I hope to recover. Monday, I have tests to do, but even walking hurts. Let's wait. I have to stay positive if I want to go to Qatar.

"It's all so close, it's about a month to go, and we've been getting ready, working every day so that nothing serious can happen. 

"Unfortunately, I had this calf injury, but now it's just a matter of waiting, doing the treatment every day so that I can recover as soon as possible."

Richarlison has scored just twice in 13 appearances since joining Tottenham from Everton, both of those goals coming against Marseille in the Champions League.

He has been capped 38 times for Brazil and has scored seven times in six appearances this year, making him a certainty to be named in the squad if fit.

Brazil boss Tite, spoiled for options in attack, has until November 14 to name his final 26-man squad – though most competing nations are expected to do so much before then.

Record five-time champions Brazil follow up their opener against Serbia with group games against Switzerland and Cameroon on November 28 and December 2 respectively.

Ronaldo has revealed he is in therapy following a battle with depression as the Brazil great bemoaned the way mental health problems were "absolutely ignored" during his playing days.

The former PSV, Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid superstar was widely recognised as one of the finest players of his generation.

Ronaldo went to four World Cups with Brazil and won both the Golden Boot and the Silver Ball in their 2002 success, having played no part in the Selecao's 1994 triumph.

But he remarkably only won two domestic league titles (both in LaLiga with Madrid) as his career was hampered by injuries.

In a new documentary on DAZN, Ronaldo discussed mental health in football with former Madrid and Brazil team-mate Roberto Carlos.

And 'O Fenomeno' was asked further about his own struggles in an interview with Marca, confirming he had suffered from depression.

"Today I am in therapy," Ronaldo said. "I have been in therapy for two and a half years, and I understand myself much better than before.

"But then again, I'm from a generation in which you were thrown into the arena and you had to do your best without the slightest hint of drama.

"I look back, and I see that yes, we were exposed to a very, very big mental strain and without any preparation for it.

"Also because it was the beginning of the internet era, with the speed at which information travels. At that time, there was no concern about the mental health of the players.

"Today players are much better prepared, they are given the medical attention they need to face the day to day, and players are studied more: the profiles of each player, how they react, how they should react.

"In my time, there was none of that, unfortunately, because we have known all our lives that soccer can cause a lot of stress and be very decisive for the rest of our lives."

He added: "The reality is that we didn't even know this kind of problem existed. It was absolutely ignored among our generation.

"Many, obviously, have gone through terrible times, even depression, because of the lack of privacy, the lack of freedom.

"It is true that the problems were very obvious, but the solutions were not very available."

Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz has signed a new long-term contract with the Premier League club.

Arsenal were said to have made two bids for the Brazil international during the last transfer window, with reports suggesting the Gunners' second offer of £23million fell some way short of Villa's £40m valuation.

Luiz's previous contract with Steven Gerrard's side was set to expire at the end of this season, and the 24-year-old was also linked with Serie A champions Milan.

However, Luiz has agreed a new deal to remain Villa Park, where he arrived in 2019 following a two-year spell at Manchester City.

He told the club's official website: "I love this club. This club opened the door for me when I came to England to play in the Premier League. I'm so happy because I’m staying here and my choice is here."

Luiz is set to face Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, with boss Gerrard under pressure following a poor start to the season.

Bruno Guimaraes' move to Newcastle United was "absolutely a bargain" in the eyes of Eddie Howe, who savoured a masterclass on Saturday from the Brazil international.

Newcastle fended off reported interest from Juventus and Arsenal to sign Guimaraes from Lyon in January for £35million, with the midfielder acknowledging he "took a gamble" to boost his World Cup hopes.

The 24-year-old has subsequently delivered and become a favourite at St James' Park, scoring twice in the 5-1 win over Brentford on Saturday.

Since making his Premier League debut in February, no Newcastle player has managed more than Guimaraes' seven goals, further aiding his bid for a starting spot with Brazil at Qatar 2022 in November.

While Brazil head coach Tite will make the final call on Guimaraes' selection, Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe was effusive in his praise as he suggested his signing represented great value for money.

"I find it difficult with that number, but I would say that he's a bargain in today's current climate," Howe said. "He's absolutely a bargain because he's had a huge effect on the team and the club.

"In today's market, that is a relatively modest sum, which I can't really believe I'm saying. But it is.

"No disrespect to anyone I've played with, but they can't compare to Bruno, maybe bar Jermain Defoe, who was incredible in his early days. But there'd be no one else like him.

"In terms of coaching, I've coached some really good individuals, but he would be right up there. He's an incredible talent and an incredible person.

"We love him to bits, and we're enjoying watching him, coaching him and playing a part in his development."

Newcastle had been held in their last two home league games but returned to St James' Park winning ways in emphatic fashion.

The Magpies have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League games (W5 D5), while only four teams have more won points than Newcastle (52) in the competition in 2022.

 

Guimaraes told NUFC TV: "We've lost many points at home, and we can't have this happening. We know at home we need to win.

"Today was an amazing day for me. I'm very proud of the boys, of the gaffer."

Boss Howe pointed to upcoming games against Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham as representing a major test of his team. They come in the space of eight days, starting on Sunday, October 16.

"Now we enter a really tough three-game week," Howe said, "and we're well aware that those games are difficult.

"We'll enjoy tonight, and enjoy the feeling of how well the team has done, but then quickly focus on what's ahead."

Neymar declared "I don't think there is a new Neymar" but the in-form Paris Saint-Germain forward feels like he is "a more complete player".

The Brazil international has made a great start to the season, scoring 11 goals in 13 games for PSG.

Neymar has also provided nine assists for the Ligue 1 champions, who are reaping the rewards of having the former Barcelona man fully fit after he spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury last season.

The 30-year-old's impressive performances bode well for Brazil ahead of the World Cup in Qatar and he thinks his all-round game is better than it has ever been.

He told PSG TV: "I don't think there is a new Neymar. I think just that things have dropped into place. I'm having a very good start to the season, like when I came here and in my first two or three years.

"I feel a more complete player now, because I can defend, attack or score goals, make assists, whatever you like. I think I'm now more complete than before.

"I think everyone helps. Of course, I know I'm not an extraordinary defender, but I at least try to help my team-mates however I can."

Neymar is dreaming of a World Cup and Champions League double.

He said: "I'm very happy to have started my season well, whether it be with Paris Saint-Germain or the Brazil national team.

"The aim this year is to win with both teams, to win everything with Paris and Brazil. We have a World Cup coming up and we know just how difficult that competition is.

"But I have a dream of winning it, just like the Champions League will be soon in Paris, I'm sure of that."

Brazil will be the number one side in the world when the Qatar 2022 World Cup starts next month, after strengthening their lead in the FIFA rankings.

The Selecao head into this year's tournament looking to break a two-decade hold by European nations on the sport's top prize, having been the last country from outside the continent to triumph at the South Korea and Japan 2002 finals.

Tite's side have slightly stretched their points advantage above second-placed Belgium, whom they displaced atop the list in March.

Brazil and Belgium head up an unchanged top five, with Argentina remaining at number three, World Cup holders France at four and England – who have endured a dismal 2022 – in fifth place.

The Three Lions will top the strongest group at Qatar 2022, Group B, when taken on points, with fellow nations the United States, Wales and Iran all ranked inside the top 20.

Italy, who are the highest-ranked nation not qualified for the World Cup, have forced the only move inside the FIFA top 10 as they head to sixth from seventh in a straight swap with Spain.

The Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark round out the top 10, with Germany just beyond them at number 11, ahead of 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The lowest-ranked side at this year's tournament will be Ghana, who sit at 61st on the FIFA list, while hosts Qatar are in 50th place.

Mikel Arteta expects Arsenal to benefit from Gabriel Jesus' absence from the Brazil squad as he hopes to show Tite what he is missing before the World Cup.

Arsenal are top of the Premier League ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, but none of their three senior Brazilian stars were called up by the Selecao last month.

Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Jesus had all been part of Tite's squad during the previous international window in June.

Yet they now face a race against time to prove themselves before Qatar 2022, which kicks off next month.

Jesus was a particularly surprising omission, having scored four goals and assisted another three in seven league appearances since joining Arsenal in July.

But Arteta revealed a determined response from his number nine, telling reporters of Jesus: "He's incredibly humble.

"He accepted the decision and the way he trained, it was just: 'Okay, I need to improve. I need to get better. I need to do more. I really want to be there [at the World Cup], it's a big aspiration for me, it's an incredible opportunity. And I'm in the right place to do that.'

"So, I think we will see that on the pitch again."

At international level, Jesus appears to be in direct competition with Spurs striker Richarlison, who has hit form at the right time with seven goals in his past six outings for Brazil.

Jesus is set to come up against him this weekend, but Arteta says his striker cannot be concerned by how others fare.

"He can only control what he can do. He cannot control what other players do," the Arsenal manager said. "And he's only focusing on that.

"So, he has ambition. We know that he plays with incredible commitment. And [on Saturday] he will play that way."

Former Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey has questioned whether football is ever going to "move forward" in dealing with racism.

After scoring for Brazil in a 5-1 win over Tunisia at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday, Tottenham forward Richarlison had a banana thrown on the pitch in front of him from the stands.

The player expressed outrage after the game and called for stiff punishments to be imposed, though appeared to doubt strong action would be taken.

Spurs team-mate Harry Kane and former England captain Rio Ferdinand offered their support, while Richarlison's club boss Antonio Conte said on Thursday there must be heavy sanctions, saying: "For sure I hope these people are banned from football for the rest of their lives."

In an interview with Stats Perform, Heskey was also not sure any punishment handed out would be enough, and raised wider concerns about how racism is dealt with by the football authorities.

"It's a tough one for me to really discuss because we still haven't moved forward," he said. "And are we going to move forward? That's the question I keep asking, are we going to move forward?

"We keep asking for certain things. We keep saying that we're getting better, and we've moved on. We're not going anywhere to be honest with you.

"They might get fined £5,000. Then I'll go and do something with betting and I'll get fined £100,000.

"The thing is priorities... It's not [treated as] a priority."

Heskey – who is the seventh top scorer in Premier League history with 516 goals – did concede that some progress is being made as racism is at least discussed more openly now compared to previous years, but does not feel enough is actively being done to deal with it.

"It's sad because I've got kids playing... they could still be going through what their grandparents went through and that's 50 years apart," he added.

"Are we getting anywhere? We are because we are discussing it. When my grandparents were going through it, we weren't discussing it. Now we're discussing it, which is great.

"But we've got no action. No call to action. Nothing."

Antonio Conte wants a lifelong ban from football to be imposed on the supporter who threw a banana at Richarlison while the Tottenham striker was on Brazil duty.

The apparent act of racist abuse came as Richarlison celebrated scoring in a 5-1 win over Tunisia at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday.

Richarlison expressed outrage after the game and called for stiff punishments to be imposed, while appearing to doubt such strong action would be taken.

The likes of his Spurs team-mate Harry Kane and former England captain Rio Ferdinand have offered their support, demanding action is taken, and now Tottenham boss Conte says there must be heavy sanctions.

"I think we have to take the good part of the situation. Richy played with the national team, scored goals," Conte said.

"Then what happened is incredible because in 2022 to witness this type of situation is embarrassing for everybody.

"For sure I hope these people are banned from football for the rest of their lives.

"It's a very disappointing situation to have to make a comment on this. I want to take the best part of the game from Richy. He scored goals and he enjoyed playing with Brazil."

Tottenham said in a statement on Wednesday the club were "disgusted" by the abuse, adding: "This has no place in football, or anywhere. We stand with you, Richy."

Harry Kane said the racist abuse that Tottenham team-mate Richarlison faced this week was "unacceptable" as he called on FIFA to ensure "the right consequences" happen.

The Brazil forward had a banana thrown at him while celebrating a goal with team-mates during the Selecao's 5-1 friendly win over Tunisia in Paris on Tuesday.

Richarlison used social media afterwards to appeal for strong punishment, while others including former England defender Rio Ferdinand have come out in support.

Now Kane has added his voice to pleas for the world governing body to get tough on racism, and backed his club-mate.

"It was very disappointing to see," Kane told ESPN Brasil. "I haven't seen [Richarlison] and had a chance to talk about the racism that he suffered against Tunisia.

"I think FIFA have said they are going to investigate and find out what happened, but normally, that kind of thing is unacceptable."

Kane, captain of England, added: "I think we're doing all as much as we can do as players to kick out [racism] as much as possible. I hope FIFA can be strong and find out who done it, making sure the right consequences are made."

Kane further vouched for Richarlison's personal attributes, saying: "He's a great guy. He works really hard and is really professional. I'm really happy to have him in our team."

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