- USA Will Face Africa 2, Argentina and France in First Round;
- U.S. U-20s Will Play All Three First Round Matches in Moscow;
- USA Must Await Completion of African Qualifying to Learn First Opponent
MOSCOW, Russia (April 22, 2006) – The Final Draw for the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia was held at Moscow City Hall on Saturday evening as the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team was placed in Group D, where it will face one of two African teams at the completion of the CAF qualifying tournament, as well as Argentina and France, in first round play. The USA, Germany, China and host Russia were awarded tops seeds in the groups prior to the Final Draw.
“We are just digesting the draw and there are some very good teams up there (on the board),” said U.S. head coach Tim Schulz. “It is nice to see that there is some parity in the groups. Now we are going to go back to our rooms to start formulating our plans just like all the coaches.”
The USA opens the tournament, which will be held from Aug. 17-Sept. 3, on Friday, Aug. 18 against an African team at Torpedo Stadium in Moscow. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) representatives will be determined later in June. The USA will play its second Group D match three days later on Monday, Aug. 21, against FIFA youth world championship debutante Argentina at Torpedo Stadium, and will finish group play on Thursday, Aug. 24, against France in Shchelkovo (Moscow Region) at Podmoskovie Stadium. The first two U.S. opening round matches kick off at 4 p.m. local time (8:00 a.m. ET) while the third group game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. local time (11 am. ET).
“You are looking at some very contrasting styles,” said Schulz of the USA’s three group opponents. “Certainly, I would imagine some of that culture from the men’s games carries over onto the women’s, so you could see some of those same styles of play in our opponents. (Our group) is actually pretty fun to see. There’s an African team in there and France is always a good contender. Then Argentina, if they bring the (same qualities) as the men’s side to the game, they will have a lot of flair and hardness. I’ve actually seen France and Argentina play on tape and they are very good teams.”
Group A is headed by top seed Russia and also boasts Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. Group B, lead by China, also features Finland, Africa 1 and Canada. The defending U-19 world champions Germany, along with surprise qualifier Switzerland, Mexico and North Korea make up Group C.
The USA won the FIFA U-19 World Championship in 2002 in Canada and finished third at the 2004 tournament in Thailand. For the first time, the tournament will be staged with 16 teams, up from 12 in the previous two FIFA world youth championships for women. The top two finishers in each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals, when the tournament becomes a knockout competition.
“I know all the girls are excited to finally find out who we will be playing,” said U.S. co-captain Nikki Krzysik. “We’ve been working so hard for the past two and half months and to have a clear picture of who and when we will be playing will make us work even harder. I was on the last U-19 team in Thailand and I know how intense and tough all the games will be. The older players on this team will make sure we educate the new players about the challenges we will face in Russia.”
Teams from the same confederation could not be drawn together in the first round, with the exception of Europe, which will have five representatives competing for the world title. Group C turned out to be the group with two European teams in Germany and Switzerland. Russia had already been placed in the top spot in Group A (A1) and will play its opening game on the tournament's first day in a mouth-watering match against Brazil at the impressive Petrovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg.
The 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship will take place at four stadiums in Moscow (Dynamo, Lokomotiv, Shchelkovo and Torpedo) and at one in St. Petersburg (Petrovsky).
Russia will be looking to capitalize on the momentum of both previous FIFA U-19 World Championships, in Canada and Thailand, which were extremely successful in terms of organization, fan support and quality of play.
In an amazingly ironic twist of fate, Australia, which left the Oceania Confederation to move to Asia, and qualified there, will face New Zealand, its former Oceania foe, in the opening Group A game for both teams.