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USA to Face N. Korea, Sweden and Nigeria in Group B at 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup

WUHAN, China (April 22, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will face North Korea, Sweden and Nigeria in Group B at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, taking place in China from Sept. 10-30. The Final Draw was held on Sunday evening (April 22) at the Guanggu Science and Technology Exhibition Centre in Wuhan, China, a host city for six matches of the tournament.

In an amazing twist, the American women drew the same three first-round opponents that they faced at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, although they will play them in a different order this time around. The USA was one of four seeded teams in the tournament along with host China, defending Women’s World Cup champions Germany, and Norway, which was drawn into Group C.

Prior to the Final Draw, Germany had been placed in Group A at A1 and China had been placed in Group D at D1. The U.S. will open Group B play against North Korea on Sept. 11 in Chengdu, and will follow that game with matches against the powerful Swedes on Sept. 14, also in Chengdu, and finish group play against African Champion Nigeria on Sept. 18 in Shanghai. The USA’s group, which looks inarguably to be the most difficult of the four, features three of the top five teams in the world in the USA (1), Sweden (4) and North Korea (5).

Group A consists of Germany, Japan, England and Argentina. Group C is made up of Norway, Ghana, Australia and Canada and Group D is headed by host China, with New Zealand, Brazil and Denmark.

“(The first-round draw) is certainly going to give us added focus once we get to the World Cup,” said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan, who was in Wuhan for the Final Draw. “There won’t be any easy games. We have to go in there knowing that we are playing a great team in North Korea and need to get a result, then an incredibly talented Sweden team and then we play African champion Nigeria. Every game is going to require great focus and intensity to get the results we want." [Quote Sheet  |  More Reaction from Ryan - .mp3]

The games against North Korea and Nigeria will mark the third consecutive Women’s World Cup that the USA has met those countries. In 2003, the USA opened against Sweden, faced Nigeria in the second match and finished group play vs. North Korea. The U.S. also closed out group play vs. North Korea in the 1999 tournament. This time, the Koreans will present the first test.

North Korea finished third in the Asian Women’s Cup last fall, defeating Japan, 3-2, in the third-place match to qualify for the Women’s World Cup. North Korea’s 1-0 semifinal loss to China in that tournament was marred by a bizarre post-game brawl stemming from a disallowed Korean goal. Three North Korean players were suspended and fined for the altercation, including the goalkeeper, who was banned world-wide for a year. The two matches with North Korea in the last two Women’s World Cups are the only meetings ever between the two teams.

"It presents an incredible challenge to this team," added Ryan. “We’re a young team, we’ve got great veteran leadership and we’ve got great young players. But I think it’s here where you say, ‘OK, look, everything that you could have go against you in this draw did, so you will have to play every game like an elimination game, even the first game. If you lose the first one, you are in trouble to get through the group.’ So it’s an incredible challenge to this team. Let’s take that challenge and go out and prove to the rest of the world that we can get this done against the worst odds they could possibly throw at us.”

In the second match, the USA faces Sweden, perhaps the most in-form European team of late, and the runners-up at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. The USA played Sweden on March 12 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, coming away with a 3-2 victory that sent the Americas to the championship of that tournament. The USA defeated Sweden, 3-1, in the opening game of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup as Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow and Shannon Boxx scored. The USA is 14-3-5 all-time against Sweden.

“Sweden is one of my favorite teams,” said Ryan. “They are dynamic, and have great team play, but they also have great individual play. They cut their players loose and let them attack and take risks. They are just fun to watch. I think right now, they are definitely playing the best soccer in Europe.”

The USA will finish the group against Nigeria, a team it has also only faced in Women’s World Cup play. In 1999, the USA gave up a goal in just the second minute before roaring back with seven consecutive goals, six before halftime, including scores on five consecutive shots. The match in 2003 was not as dramatic, but the USA still won 5-0 as Mia Hamm scored twice. Nigeria won the African qualifying tournament last November, defeating Ghana in the championship, 1-0. Nigeria booked its place in China with a 5-0 thrashing of Cameroon in the semifinal.

“Nigeria has fast players, athletic players, but are very unpredictable,” said U.S. team captain Kristine Lilly, who was also in Wuhan for the Final Draw and played in the FIFA Women’s All-Star game on April 21. “Seeing that we have only played them in two past world championships, we don’t really have that much experience seeing how they play or how they have developed through the years. One of their players, Cynthia (Uwak) was out here for the World All-Star game and she was a very crafty player, so I think we should expect a lot of that when we play Nigeria.” [More Reaction from Lilly - .mp3]

Should the U.S. advance to the second round by finishing either first or second place in Group B, it would meet a team from Group A, which features Germany, Japan, England and Argentina.

“I say, ‘Bring it on,’” said Lilly on the difficult opening round draw. “I’m looking forward to it. People say, ‘You guys got the hardest group,’ and this or that. But the World Cup is hard. You’ve had 16 teams from around the world competing to be the best. So whether we face them early on in group play, or later on once we get out of group play, you’re going to have to play the best. For me, I’m excited. We have a face to each of the games and each team you will come across and Korea is our first goal. Probably six points will get us out of the group, so it’s about winning now when you start the World Cup."

Visit the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup competitions page for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in China.

U.S. 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Schedule





Sept. 11

North Korea

Chengdu (Chengdu Sports Center Stadium)

5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET

Sept. 14


Chengdu (Chengdu Sports Center Stadium)

5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET

Sept. 18


Shanghai (Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium)

8 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET





U.S. All-Time Record vs. Group B World Cup Opponents

Opponent GP W-L-T GF GA Notes
North Korea 2 2-0-0 6 0 Venturini scores twice in ‘99, Whitehill gets two in ‘03
Sweden 22 14-3-5 43 22 Past two games have ended, 3-2; USA won ’03 WWC match, 3-1
Nigeria 2 2-0-0 12 1 U.S. wins 7-1 classic at Soldier Field in ’99 WWC

FIFA Women's World Cup 2007 Groups
Group A (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu):

Group B (Chengdu, Shanghai, Tianjin):
Korea DPR

Group C (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu):

Group D (Wuhan, Tianjin, Hangzhou):
China PR
New Zealand

2007 FIFA Women's World Cup Home