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A Saudi-led coalition has launched air attacks on Iran-allied Houthi forces in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, Saudi state television reported early on Saturday, part of an escalation of tit-for-tat attacks that has stoked regional tensions.
The raids hit air-defence systems and other military positions in the Houthi-controlled city, days after the Houthis launched a missile attack on a Saudi airport, according to the TV report.
No casualties were reported. Houthi forces have yet to comment on Saturday’s reports.
The Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been battling the Houthis in Yemen since 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government that was forced out of Sanaa by the Houthis.
The Houthis have stepped up drone and missile attacks on cities in neighbouring Saudi Arabia in recent months as tensions have risen between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied with the United States further afield across the Middle East.
The Yemen conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But the Houthis have denied taking any orders from Tehran and say they took up arms to fight corruption.
Yemen’s civil war has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the impoverished country to the verge of famine, the United Nations and aid agencies have said.
Saudi authorities say the Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport on Wednesday wounded 26 people. On Friday, the kingdom’s air defence forces said they intercepted five Houthi drones launched at Abha airport and the southern city of Khamis Mushait.
The rebels said they had the right to defend themselves in the face of five years of Saudi-UAE bombing and an air and sea blockade.
The Houthi forces’ spokesman had issued a warning on Friday to airlines and civilians to avoid Saudi airports and military sites threatening further raids.
“We tell the Saudi regime that our operations against airports and military sites will continue as long as Saudi aggression against our country continues.
“We also call on airline companies and civilians to stay away from airports and military sites as they have become legitimate targets,” spokesman Yahya Sariee said in a Facebook post.
The escalation came after Saudi air defence forces said they intercepted two drones targeting the city of Khamis Mushait on Monday and had shot down a bomb-laden drone deployed by Houthi rebels that targeted Jizan airport last month.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch had condemned that attack. “Unlawful Saudi-led coalition air strikes in Yemen never justify Houthi attacks on Saudi civilians,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW.
The escalation in violence could threaten a fragile UN-led peace initiative in Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, which handles the bulk of the impoverished country’s commercial and aid imports and is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Brazil were jeered by their own fans in their opening Copa America game against Bolivia despite winning 3-0.
Barcelona forward Philippe Coutinho scored twice and Everton netted a superb third late on in Sao Paulo.
Fans at the Morumbi stadium, which was around 70% full, booed Brazil at the break after a goalless first half in the Group A match.
Manager Tite said he “expected” a negative reaction from supporters after his team’s lacklustre performance.
“We felt it … young lads feel it, the coach feels it.” the 56-year-old said.
“We need to understand. If we get forward and create chances then they will applaud.
“Having been at big clubs, when you sometimes don’t produce, then don’t expect the fans to understand. They will boo. When you pass the ball along the back, from full-back to central defender to goalkeeper, the first thing you hear is boo.”
Brazil, who are without Paris St-Germain striker Neymar due to an ankle ligament injury, started with Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino up front and Manchester City’s Fernandinho in midfield.
Neither could break down Bolivia’s resistance in the first half, as a large section of the 46,342 fans in the stands made their frustrations clear.
But the fans saw a brighter Brazil in the second half, as former Liverpool forward Coutinho, 27, scored the first goal of the tournament from the penalty spot in the 50th minute following a Bolivia handball, and added his second with a deft header three minutes later.
Substitute Everton, 23, lashed home the third in the 85th minute – a first international goal for the Gremio striker – to seal the win for Brazil, who were playing a home game in white shirts for the first time in 60 years.
Brazil are hosting the Copa America for the first time since 1989, with all 10 South American teams taking part, along with guest nations Qatar and Japan.
In the second Group A game Peru play Venezuela in Porto Alegre on Saturday (20:00 BST), while Brazil’s next match is against Venezuela (23:00 BST) in Salvador on Tuesday.
The knocks on President Donald Trump’s defense-secretary-in-waiting have been circulating for months behind closed doors in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.
Pat Shanahan is the “Boeing guy” who is still doing the bidding of his former employer, his critics inside and outside the administration say. He allows White House appointees, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, to directly contact lower Pentagon officials, according to current and former Defense Department officials who consider it a breach of the chain of command. He obsesses about his image — as shown in the all-black turtleneck ensemble he wore for a February visit to Afghanistan, which earned him mocking comparisons to a Bond villain or Keanu Reeves’ character from “The Matrix.”
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So far, none of this flak has sunk Shanahan’s belief that Trump will nominate him to lead the Pentagon, a step the president announced more than a month ago but has yet to submit to the Senate. But it offers a preview of the steep hill to confirmation that could be awaiting the longtime aerospace executive, who has already withstood an investigation into his handling of Boeing, unhappiness inside the White House over his performances at hearings and international gatherings, and the more recent flap involving the destroyer USS John S. McCain.
Trump offered a non-committal assessment Friday on Shanahan’s prospects. “He’s been recommended, now he has to be approved by Congress,” the president said in a Fox News interview. “We are going to see.”
Shanahan has been waging a counterattack, making more than two dozen trips to Capitol Hill in the past few months to win over lawmakers and enlisting the support of national security leaders in both parties. And in an interview with POLITICO, the acting defense secretary made the case that he is an effective steward of the military — one who knows how to deal with the Trump decision-making style that has flummoxed so many past Cabinet members.
“You have to know how to hit a curveball,” Shanahan said, insisting he stands up for the Defense Department’s interests even in the face of White House pressure. That was on display in May when he broke with Trump over whether North Korea had violated U.N. Security Council resolutions by test-firing missiles.
“What I’ve found with the president is he has a lot of new ideas and you have to work with him,” Shanahan said. “It’s not about going in and telling him no, but that doesn’t mean you go in and tell him yes.”
But five current and former Defense Department officials who have worked directly with Shanahan, both uniformed and civilian, say the acting secretary is too easily manipulated by an unpredictable White House.
These people say that in his six months of running the Pentagon, Shanahan has shown markedly less independence than former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired four-star general who slow-walked or outright resisted Trump’s policies on issues such as Syria strategy, transgender troops and the sending of military units to the U.S.-Mexico border. Shanahan, they say, is out of his league, outgunned by others in Trump’s orbit and so eager to get the job that he fails to defend the Pentagon’s position.
In particular, Shanahan’s critics say he has ceded too much authority over major decisions to Bolton, a security hawk and experienced bureaucratic gunslinger.
Last month, for example, the Pentagon was overruled on the decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, which was supported by Bolton and Pompeo.
Even worse, Defense Department officials with direct knowledge of Shanahan’s operations said, he has tolerated a practice by Bolton and the National Security Council staff of calling Pentagon underlings and inserting themselves deep into the chain of command. That means the people who work for Shanahan are unprotected from interference by White House staff, who are not in the military’s chain of authority.
“These kinds of surgical strikes into the building didn’t happen with the previous regime,” said one Defense Department official who has worked with Shanahan, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to be candid about their boss. “The NSC staff habitually reaches down into the bowels of the building.”
A defense official insisted that the behavior of Bolton and White House aides has little to do with Shanahan’s leadership. “This is a similar pattern that occurred under Secretary Mattis,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “He had a death grip on what came in and out, and even under that system the NSC would reach down into people in the Pentagon.”
But Shanahan’s critics say the deference to Bolton shows up in smaller ways as well: Whenever Bolton phones Shanahan, the acting secretary cuts his meetings short or kicks his aides out of his office so he can take the call. Mattis, in contrast, would often just promise to call the national security adviser back.
“Bolton is driving all things policy,” a former department official said bluntly.
Shanahan rejects such accusations, disputing any perception that he’s a pushover in deliberations with Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other close Trump aides.
“We’re out in front,” Shanahan said. “Whether it’s Iran or Syria … we have an equal seat at the table. I think a good portion of my responsibility here is to make sure Secretary Pompeo and I are synced up. Or, you think about the National Security Council. Are we working on the right things? Do we have the right priorities set there and do we make decisions on a timely basis?”
The White House has yet to submit Shanahan’s nomination to the Senate, more than a month after announcing that Trump intended to. The White House has offered no explanation for the delay, which occurred after an eruption of negative headlines surrounding allegations that the White House had asked the Navy to conceal the name of the USS John S. McCain during the president’s visit to Japan last month. (Trump and Shanahan have both denied knowing anything about the request.)
Shanahan’s defenders portray him as a calm, no-drama leader who is quietly working to enlist allies in the national security establishment.
“I’ve been quite impressed with him,” said John Hamre, a deputy defense secretary in the Clinton administration who now runs the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank. “This is a guy who will work hard. He is demonstrating that.”
Eric Chewning, Shanahan’s chief of staff, said the acting secretary has quickly learned on the job despite some early stumbles.
“You can see the arc. He got better over time with his testimony and everything else, but it’s because he had to practice,” Chewning said. “Essentially he got thrust into the Super Bowl and the world got to watch him learn how to do that sort of thing real-time.”
Shanahan’s office provided POLITICO with the names of about a dozen people who could vouch for his temperament and qualifications.
Hamre, who was one of the people on the list, adds that he thinks the perception of Shanahan as a weak link is off the mark.
“He is not a pushover,” Hamre said. “He does push back. They say he is a strong voice when he is in the White House. This is what I’ve heard. Because I’ve been asking the question, too.”
Others POLITICO contacted who have navigated the world of high-level defense policy say Shanahan may simply be the most logical nominee — someone who, more than two years into Trump’s presidency, is already ensconced at the Pentagon, and experienced in dealing with the military and its issues as well as the commander in chief.
“He’s probably the best choice under the circumstances,” said former Obama administration Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Shanahan, 56, came to Washington to be Mattis’ deputy in early 2017 after a three-decade-long career at Boeing, where as a top executive he was credited with turning around some of the aerospace giant’s most troubled programs. His portfolio also included the company’s commercial jets, including the 737 MAX that is now facing scrutiny after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
Unlike Mattis, a career military man and veteran of the capital’s bureaucratic turf wars, Shanahan had scant experience in government or the military. To some, he seems tepid and unsure of himself. To others, he’s merely low-key.
“The first impression you get from him is sort of the relaxed West Coast,” David Norquist, the Pentagon’s second-ranking official, said in an interview. “He doesn’t become a source of the drama. He’s steady-as-she-goes, even-keeled. You can bring him bad news, you can bring him challenging news, you can bring him problems, and you’re not going to get the messenger shot. You’re going to get a serious discussion about where we go from here.”
Also unlike most of his predecessors, who decorated the secretary’s plush office suite with personal mementos collected over decades in government or politics, Shanahan’s workspace is unusually bare, much like the office he had when he was deputy secretary.
Among the few personal items is a framed picture of his father in his police uniform and a shelf stocked with some of his favorite books — on business, the Wright Brothers, and aviator Charles Lindbergh. One he refers to often is “Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Built the Arsenal of Democracy That Won World War II,” according to aides who say it informs some of his approach to leadership.
Lean and athletic, Shanahan runs nearly every day he is in Washington — often with the enlisted military personnel who work in his orbit — and is a bit of a health nut who is particular about his salads and fruit and vegetable drinks.
Shanahan has been accused of trying too hard to fit into his role — like his clothing choice during his trip to Afghanistan — and of focusing more on his media image than on the tasks at hand.
The clothing was on Shanahan’s mind days after the Afghanistan trip, when he was heard jokingly asking Britain’s then-defense chief what he thought of his outfit.
“He’s just spending way too much time focusing on the media. He’s pining for the job so that’s part of it,” one of the Defense Department officials said, adding that Shanahan gets distracted by criticism.
“I think it’s more a recognition that [he had] big shoes to fill and [Shanahan thought:] ‘I need to build out a media image that people can associate with me rather than being just the Boeing guy,’” said another Pentagon official.
By letting Bolton dictate policy and communicate directly with underlings, Shanahan is upending the chain of command, which is supposed to go from combatant commanders to the defense secretary to the president, the critics say. Bolton, whose job doesn’t require Senate confirmation, is supposed to be an adviser to the president.
This leaves Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the lame-duck chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to try to smooth things over between the Pentagon and the White House and shape policy while not irking Trump.
After Trump announced in December that he wanted to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a decision that alarmed lawmakers and allies and prompted Mattis to resign, Dunford was the one who persuaded Trump to slow down the withdrawal, a defense official said.
Dunford retires this fall, though, leaving one less leader to check what some security officials see as the president’s more rash impulses.
Not only is Shanahan overly deferential to Bolton, his critics say, but he lacks the curiosity to dive into the details of the job. They say Shanahan glides over briefing materials, preferring charts and pictures to text, in contrast with the famously scholarly Mattis, who carefully reads his prepared briefings as well as his deep trove of history books.
“I’ve been in a number of meetings and briefings with [Shanahan] where that was apparent,” a former government official said of the acting secretary’s preparations. “I think he thinks he doesn’t need to [prepare] and that he can get up and talk about these things as he knows. … Maybe he did prepare and was just flustered. For one reason or another, the performances that I’ve seen … were pretty lackluster.”
Combatant commanders — the four-star generals and admirals who command forces in regions such as the Middle East and Asia-Pacific — used to present urgent requests to Mattis, who would take notes and give detailed responses.
Shanahan, defense officials say, often ends briefings by thanking the commanders for their leadership, rather than responding to their requests. Action items languish for weeks until nervous aides press Shanahan to make decisions.
Mattis “would take these things and write these margin notes on them, very detailed questions and you could tell that he was really reading it,” a former Pentagon official said. A Defense Department official said that with Shanahan, “eventually it’ll get brought to his attention, but he won’t do it unless he’s force-fed.”
Panetta said he’s heard of these kinds of delays, but chalked it up to a lack of personnel, not a lack of interest.
“Part of that is being an acting secretary for so long and not being able to get all of his team in place to make sure the issues that are being raised are being dealt with,” he said. “And so that may be part of the problem, but it clearly needs to be fixed.”
Shanahan is also trying to counteract the impressions he’s made since taking over. White House and Defense Department sources have previously told POLITICO that Shanahan’s public performances, either on Capitol Hill or on the world stage, haven’t wowed Trump.
They point out that when he testifies, he appears nervous and frequently defers to Norquist and Dunford.
“Whenever he’s testified in front of the Armed Services Committee, his testimony leaves a lot to be desired,” said a Republican member of the committee. “He’s talented in saying much of nothing.”
Shanahan maintains that his efforts to meet with members of Congress — to get to know them and seek their advice —have paid off.
“I think the frequency of interaction has helped,” he said. “People have a sense of what I can accomplish, where I’m adding value to the department.”
Shanahan’s defenders say he’s grown skilled in the job, including his role as a diplomat.
The Pentagon faced a quandary this month as Shanahan prepared to meet behind closed doors in Singapore with his Chinese counterpart: addressing the sensitive topic of North Korea’s recent smuggling operations in the South China Sea, in violation of U.N. sanctions.
His aim was to lobby Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe to take steps to stop the covert transfer of goods, a possible area where both countries could cooperate. But there was a strong expectation that the Chinese would feign ignorance or even question whether it was happening.
So to ensure Fenghe couldn’t deny what was taking place right under Beijing’s nose, Shanahan had an idea: Bring a gift for the Chinese delegation in the form of a glossy “coffee-table style” book of U.S. intelligence photos depicting the illegal activity — with enough copies for the whole delegation.
The unusual ploy paid off, according to officials with direct knowledge of the meeting in Singapore. “It was clearly a jarring moment for the Chinese at the start of this, and Secretary Shanahan controlled the rest of the meeting,” recounted a senior defense official.
Shanahan’s on-the-job performance has steadily impressed some influential players. “He’s acquired a great deal of knowledge in a relatively short period of time as the deputy secretary and now as the acting secretary,” said retired Gen. Jack Keane, a former Army vice chief of staff who is close to the Trump White House. “Of course, he has a learning curve in understanding the politics of the Pentagon and Washington.”
Another advocate is former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory committee. She said in an interview that she hopes Shanahan will apply his considerable skills to solve some big problems.
“He is not Jim Mattis,” said Harman, who is now director of the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. “He offers a completely different skill set. He should not try to be Mattis. At Boeing they called him ‘Mr. Fix It.’ He should cut through the bureaucracy and tackle a few big things like space and 5G.”
Others see Shanahan as well positioned to carry out a new National Security Strategy that places a premium on preparing for the threats posed by Russia and China, which he played a key role in drafting while deputy secretary.
“I think Shanahan is the guy for the job,” said Elbridge Colby, director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security, who previously worked as a top Pentagon official on strategy and force development under Shanahan. “He’s focused on the right issue, which is China, China, China, as he puts it. He’s not weighed down by a desire to figure out a new strategy in Afghanistan that’s going to turn the war around there — he’s got his eyes on the prize.
“We need to focus on China and we need to resist the temptation to get embroiled in another conflict in the Middle East, and Shanahan is the one I trust on those things,” Colby added.
Shanahan has also been diligent about reaching out to former defense secretaries for advice.
“Over the past few months, he’s talked to almost every former SecDef,” Justin Johnson, another top Shanahan aide, said recently. “Last week he talked to [former Pentagon policy chief] Michèle Flournoy. Hamre and [former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob] Work, you put them in a room together and they nerd out because they speak the same language.”
Other supporters agreed that Shanahan has one big advantage in dealing with Trump — their shared corporate background, in a business culture that prizes results over process.
“In Washington we tend to delve into process: ‘Sir, we’re going to have a meeting on the following, and then we’re going to put together a paper,’” Norquist said. “And that’s really not of interest to a chief executive officer.”
That tracks with Shanahan’s own description of Trump, who he said wants to set broad goals without getting into the weeds of policy decisions.
“He doesn’t want to be involved in the figuring-out part,” Shanahan said. “He wants to have me come back and say what are the options in order to achieve these things.”
Bryan Bender contributed to this report
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced that a debate on a controversial extradition bill will be suspended, after hundreds of thousands of people in the territory protested against it.
“There were indeed inadequacies, the bill has caused a lot of division in society,” Lam said on Saturday. She said there were supporters on both sides of the debate over the legislation.
The extradition bill would allow Hong Kong’s chief executive to send suspected offenders to places with which the territory has no formal extradition agreement for trial.
It would apply to Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling in the city to be sent to mainland China and has many concerned it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong’s international financial status.
Opponents of the bill fear it could make residents of the city vulnerable to politically-motivated charges in China’s court system and comes as part of a wider move by Beijing to scale back the freedoms Hong Kong enjoys under the so-called “one country, two systems” principle put in place as it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
“I don’t think we are in a position to retract the bill,” Lam said, because it would send the message that it was not needed.
Instead, she said, they would suspend work on the legislation, offer more explanations to address the “worries, doubts and misunderstanding” the bill has sparked.
“We need to restore peace and order in Hong Kong,” she said.
Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Hong Kong, said: “This is a short-term victory for these protesters that this law won’t proceed further but it has not been cancelled.”
The suspension was a climbdown for the territory’s leader who had been defiant in the face of criticism from business and legal bodies and a protest last Sunday that was the biggest political demonstration in the former British colony since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Organisers say a million people took part in the march. A second demonstration on Wednesday descended into violence which in part halted debate on the bill.
It has now been suspended indefinitely.
“This political calculation comes on the heels of a miscalculation by Carrie Lam. She didn’t expect to get this kind of backlash from Hong Kongers so she is having to back-pedal,” Heidler said.
Protesters had wanted the legislation abandoned.
The Civil Human Rights Front, which organised last week’s rally, has requested a permit for a second mass demonstration on Sunday, while a strike is planned for Monday.
It is unclear if these will go ahead in the face of Lam’s announcement.
Demonstrators have also been calling for accountability in the wake of violence at the protests.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 30,000 people had signed a petition protesting against the use of force by authorities during the clashes with protesters two days earlier, which saw anti-riot police deploy tear gas, water cannon and pepper spray against those demonstrating.
Lam had been under increasing pressure in recent days.
On Friday, Executive Council member Bernard Chan told Hong Kong cable television he did not think that a formal discussion on the bill, a precursor to a final vote by the semi-autonomous territory’s Legislative Council, should continue.
Lam said there was no deadline as to when the executive might move forward with the legislation, that there would be consultations with various parties before the next steps were decided.
Britain’s Chris Froome suffered a fracture to his neck in Wednesday’s serious crash, scans have shown.
The four-time Tour de France champion faces six weeks in hospital and is not expected to compete again this year.
Froome, 34, lost consciousness after the crash and also sustained a fractured right femur, a broken hip, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.
He is likely to spend “at least six months” away from cycling, says the surgeon who operated on him.
Froome had a six-hour operation, which has been described as a “success” although chief surgeon Remi Philippot said it was “difficult to be sure” on an exact length of time for his recovery.
He added: “Maybe we will need to do other things. Maybe the rehabilitation will not be as we want.”
Doctors have said they are are “very happy” with Froome’s progress, and Team Ineos confirmed he will remain in hospital for the next few days.
The crash happened during a practice ride before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine in Roanne, France.
In footage captured by ITV4 minutes before the incident, a team-mate tells Froome “you don’t have to take risks, Chris” as he takes both hands off the handlebars to put on a jacket.
But moments later, Froome took his hand off his handlebars again to blow his nose and was travelling at 54km/h when a gust of wind caught his front wheel, causing him to hit a wall.
He was airlifted to St Etienne Hospital.
“First things first, the surgery was a success,” said Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher. “The operation, which lasted for six hours, went very well.
“Chris woke up and was reviewed by the intensive care consultants and the orthopaedic specialist who operated on him and they’re both very happy with his progress to date.
“Chris will remain in hospital for the next few days for observation, but he is already actively engaging in discussing his rehabilitation options, which is very encouraging.”
Philippot also told BBC Sport: “Chris was totally awake – he wanted to know when he can cycle again.
“Professional sports people are very good mentally and want to win but maybe I think I have to slow him down because he’s very quick and wants to go fast but bone healing needs at least two months so we have to be patient.”
British former Olympic cycling champion Dani Rowe, who suffered a training accident in 2014 which left her with broken ribs and a collapsed lung, said returning from such a serious injury is a challenge for the mind as well as the body.
“It is really hard to come back from this kind of accident, I think mentally more than physically,” the 28-year-old told BBC Sport.
“There’s been some horrific injuries from this crash, but knowing Chris’ kind of mental strength and determination, he will definitely be back, I’m sure.”
Meanwhile, cycling’s governing body the UCI has announced that 2011 Vuelta a Espana champion Juan Jose Cobo had been found guilty of an anti-doping violation.
That could see Froome, who finished second in the race, retrospectively awarded the victory.
|Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019|
|Host nation: France Dates: 7 June – 7 July 2019|
|Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and the BBC Sport website and app|
England confirmed their place in the World Cup’s last 16 with a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Friday, but Scotland’s hopes of progression were dealt a blow as they lost 2-1 to Japan.
What does day nine at the Women’s World Cup have in store as Group E takes centre stage?
The equation is simple for the Netherlands and Canada on Saturday. Win their respective Group E matches and both will reach the last 16 before facing each other on Thursday, 20 June.
The Netherlands and Cameroon begin the World Cup weekend action at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes (14:00 BST).
Canada then face New Zealand at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble (20:00 BST)
BBC Sport will have live coverage of every World Cup match across TV, radio, the Red Button and online from the group stages all the way through to the final.
First up on Saturday, BBC One will show Netherlands v Cameroon from 13:45 BST.
Canada v New Zealand will then be available on the Red Button from 19:45 BST, while there will also be live text coverage of both matches on the BBC Sport website.
Netherlands v Cameroon
|Nationality: Dutch Position: Winger Club: Barcelona Age: 26|
Named Fifa’s Best Women’s Player of 2017, Netherlands and Barcelona winger Lieke Martens offers a direct attacking threat down the left wing.
Martens, who contributed three goals and two assists as the Netherlands were crowned European champions in 2017, scored her nation’s first Women’s World Cup goal in 2015 and would become the first Dutch woman to score at three major tournaments should she find the net in France this summer.
The 26-year-old could be instrumental if Cameroon allow their opponents to get in to their stride in Valenciennes.
Canada v New Zealand
|Nationality: Canadian Position: Forward Club: Portland Thorns Age: 36|
All eyes remain on Canada captain Christine Sinclair, who is just four goals away from becoming the all-time top goalscorer – male or female – in international football.
With 181 goals for her country since her debut in 2000, Sinclair is a crucial player for a Canadian side whose last three World Cup wins have been by a 1-0 scoreline.
Competing in her fifth World Cup, Canada’s most-capped player turned 36 on Wednesday and could be the difference against a resolute New Zealand side.
Substitute Jill Roord’s dramatic last-gasp header gave Sarina Wiegman’s Netherlands a winning start against New Zealand on Tuesday, but Roord admitted her team-mates were “nervous” in their opener against the Kiwis.
Coach Wiegman criticised her side for being “too slow” as their second World Cup campaign got under way, following their debut on home soil four years ago, and will hope to confirm a second successive last-16 appearance with a more assured performance against Cameroon.
“We were lucky because our three substitutes contributed to an outstanding result. It flags the quality of our team that the subs are ready to play, so I’m pleased with the situation,” Wiegman said.
New Zealand will need to pick themselves up from that late defeat – described as “heartbreaking” by boss Tom Sermanni – if they are to salvage their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.
Still seeking a first World Cup win in their fifth tournament appearance, the Football Ferns come up against the fifth-best side in the world in Kenneth Heiner-Moller’s Canada who, ominously for New Zealand, “got the nerves out” against Cameroon according to goalscorer Kadeisha Buchanan.
Buchanan added: “For sure we are going to come back stronger for the next game and keep the momentum going. We will be better.”
BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.