Auckland hosts key battles
© Foto-net

Japan's magnificent display against France on Sunday was enough to propel them into the quarter-finals of New Zealand 2008, but no other side has yet made sure of a place in the final eight. England are in the strongest position, with six points in Group D, but a loss against Korea Republic and a win for Nigeria over Brazil could still see them eliminated. In Group C, the battle is between France and the USA to join the Japanese.

Match of the day
USA-France, Auckland, 5 November, 16.00 (local time)

It all comes down to this in Group C. Japan upset the USA in their first game before drowning the French in a hail of goals on Sunday; now the Young Nadeshiko's two victims, with three points apiece, do battle for a place in the quarter-finals. With a superior goal difference, the USA can advance with a draw, but they will by no means underestimate a French team which put six goals past Paraguay in their opener.

The French hat-trick hero from that game, Pauline Crammer, was substituted at half-time against Japan, and coach Gerard Sergent will be keenly hoping that she can recover her scoring touch against the US. Kaz Tambi's charges struggled at times against Paraguay, but appear to have rediscovered some of their form. North Harbour Stadium patrons are in for a splendid battle on Wednesday afternoon. 

Other matches
The match between Japan and Paraguay in Christchurch is of limited significance, with Paraguay already eliminated and Japan's +7 goal difference unlikely to be bettered by France or USA. But the Japanese will want to keep their momentum going into the knockout stage. 

Korea Republic, whose performance against Brazil represented a major improvement from their opening match, faces England in Auckland, knowing that a win will probably see them through to the knockout phase. England, however, the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal, will once again be a tough nut to crack. 

The other Group D match will take place in Christchurch at the same time. Nigeria were wasteful in front of goal against England, but Felix Ibe Ukwu's team showed physical strength and intelligent movement in abundance, qualities which are likely to worry a Brazil side that has looked vulnerable at the back. Only a win will suffice for Brazil, but a draw could still see Nigeria through should England defeat Korea Republic

The stat
20 - the number of shots on goal Nigeria created for themselves against England. Their opponents managed only two, but won the game 1-0!

What they said
"We're definitely capable of beating France. They're a great side though, and it's going to be a terrific game - one that our kids are relishing being a part of," Kazbek Tambi, USA coach.

All the fixtures
Auckland
USA-France (16.00)
England-Korea Republic (19.00)

Christchurch
Paraguay-Japan (16.00)
Nigeria-Brazil (19.00)