A two-goal showing from Kadidiatou Diani saw the U.S. women’s national team fall in the side’s opening match of 2019, taking a 3-1 loss at the hands of France. After going unbeaten throughout 2018, the USWNT came into the World Cup year riding high, kicking off the 2019 slate with a friendly against World Cup host France in Le Havre. But Diani’s star showing was enough to doom Jill Ellis’ outfit to a defeat to one of the few teams to have taken points off of them last year. Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Her first of the night came following a brilliant run down the right from Delphine Cascarino, who cut back into the box for Diani, who had started the move in the midfield, to slam home just nine minutes in. Not the start the USWNT envisioned…Diani starts France’s attack brilliantly and finishes it for the 1-0 lead just 9 minutes in. pic.twitter.com/gDypSLq5o3— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) January 19, 2019The U.S. seemed to repond well enough to the early strike, but Diani broke the game open with her second of the night 10 minutes after the break. A ball in down the right gave the 23-year-old just enough space to send a lofted shot to the back post, leaving USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stranded. Oh my 😲What a goal by Diani for France. pic.twitter.com/FT6SMviEJX— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) January 19, 2019Marie-Antoinette Katoto made it 3-0 in favor of France in the 78th, cementing the win for the French side. Mallory Pugh pulled one back for the USA late on but it would not be enough to salvage a result. The loss broke a 28-match unbeaten run for the U.S. but shouldn’t have come as a huge shock. France has earned three wins and two draws against the USWNT over the course of their last 10 meetings and the French side is among the favorites to win this summer’s World Cup, having stretched its own unbeaten run to nine games. The two teams faced off just once in 2018, playing out a 1-1 draw.
Speaking to reporters following closed-door consultations, Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg, which holds the Council’s presidency for the month, said members of the 15-nation body had also expressed concern about the lack of results in the recent round of political negotiations between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), on reaching an accord to end nearly three years of conflict in strife-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Ms. Lucas’ comments came after the Council had been briefed by Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and UN Special Envoy on Sudan and South Sudan Haile Menkerios. She said that during the discussion, Council members expressed particular concern regarding the situation in Abyei and the continued presence in the resource rich area of security forces from both sides. “They reiterated their call for immediate redeployment of those forces from Abyei,” she said. In addition, the Council also urged the two nations to renew their commitment to the establishment of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) and full operationalization of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM). She said Mr. Menkerios briefed the Council on implementation of its resolution 2046 (2012), by which it had condemned repeated incidents of cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan, including seizure of territory, and demanded that the two countries immediately cease all hostilities, withdraw forces, activate previously-agreed security mechanisms, and resume negotiations, under threat of sanctions.He updated the Council on the status of negotiations between Khartoum and the SPLM-N, and on the humanitarian situations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.Ms. Lucas told reporters that the talks between the parties resumed on 13 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP). The session ended on 2 March, however, without any agreement on proposals presented by the Panel. “Fighting continues in the two States and the humanitarian situation remains of great concern,” she said.As for the situation in Abyei and the work of the UN Interim Security Force for there (UNISFA), she said the Mr. Ladsous had informed the Council that there has been no progress on interim arrangements nor on the final status of the area, which is one of the outstanding issues of the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005, which helped to end the long-running civil war between Sudan and South Sudan. “As a result, UNISFA continues to operate in a vacuum of law and order,” she said.Mr. Ladsous also reported on the continued presence of Sudanese and South Sudanese security personnel in Abyei, which constitutes a violation of the June 2011 agreements and Security Council resolutions. Ms Lucas said the UN peacekeeping chief had also noted that there have been no developments regarding the establishment the demilitarized border zone, and said that all joint border verification and monitoring mechanism operations remain suspended.