Qualifiers learn their fate
© LOC

The stately residence of Vina Cousino Macul was at its resplendent best on Saturday evening, when it hosted the Official Draw for the group stage of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Chile 2008.

After following proceedings closely throughout, the 16 teams who made it through to the finals can now prepare to face their first-round opponents. The tournament kicks off on 19 November and ends on 7 December, with matches being played at four venues around the country: La Florida, Coquimbo, Chillan and Temuco.

The Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, attended the draw ceremony, which was illuminated by a wonderful display from Chilean pianist Roberto Bravo in one of the halls at the magnificent nineteenth-century house, the oldest residence in the country to be owned by a single family (the Cousinos). Guests were also treated to a performance by the street theatre company PatoGallina.

The draw was conducted by FIFA's Executive Director of Competitions, Jim Brown, who was assisted by the renowned former Chilean international Elias Figueroa, with the cooperation of four women: Laura Albornoz, the Chilean Women's National Service Minister; Francisca Puertas, a 2006 roller hockey world championship winner; Marisol Villarroel, the South American figure skating champion; and former Brazilian footballer Sissi, one of the greatest players in the history of the women's game and a FIFA Ambassador.

The opening phase of the tournament comprises four groups of four teams, with the top two sides in each section advancing to the quarter-finals.

The draw for this first phase is as follows:
Group A: Chile, England, New Zealand, Nigeria
Group B: China PR, Argentina, France, USA
Group C: Canada, Japan, Congo DR, Germany
Group D:
Mexico, Norway, Brazil, Korea DPR

As well as the Final Draw, the event also saw the unveiling of the official tournament mascot following a national competition attracting more than 4,000 entries. The winning design was 17-year-old Jose Manuel Carmona's charming Pinguino Rojo (Red Penguin).