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Japan Claims Final Berth for FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003

CHICAGO (Saturday, July 12, 2003) – Japan became the 16th and final team to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 by virtue of a 2-0 victory over Mexico today in Tokyo’s National Stadium. Japan and Mexico had earlier played to a 2-2 draw on July 5 in front of 75,000 fans in Mexico City in the first leg of their two-leg playoff.

For Japan, the victory qualifies the country for their fourth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, bringing to eight the total number of teams that have played in each FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament since the inaugural 1991 competition (along with Brazil, China, Germany, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden and the United States).

Midfielder Homare Sawa of the WUSA's Atlanta Beat scored the opening goal past Mexican goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar on a header in the 56th minute on an assist from Emi Yamamoto.  Mexico was still in it toward the end of the match, but an 83rd minute goal from second-half substitute Karina Maruyama clinched the triumph for the Japanese.

The Final Draw for the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 will take place this Thursday (July 17) at 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The Final Draw will feature some of the top players from the U.S. Women’s National Team, as well as players from a number of nations qualified for the tournament and will decide all the match-ups for the 32-game, 16-team, four-group tournament.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003, which is being presented by MasterCard, will mark the third time in 10 years that the U.S. Soccer Federation has hosted a FIFA World Cup event. In 1994, the FIFA World Cup was introduced to the American public for the first time, resulting in the highest attended event in FIFA history, and in 1999 the FIFA Women’s World Cup was the most successful women’s sporting event ever.

FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 Finalists

    AFC (4):  China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea
    CAF (2):  Ghana, Nigeria
    CONCACAF (2):  Canada, USA
    CONMEBOL (2):  Argentina, Brazil
    OFC (1):  Australia
    UEFA (5):  France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Sweden