Ahead of the final round of Group A and B games at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Chile 2008, only two things are known for certain: USA will be among the last eight come Wednesday night, and hosts Chile will bow out of the competition after their game in Temuco. For the remaining sextet, anything is possible. England and Nigeria go into their ties knowing a draw will see them through, a result that may also allow France to qualify at the expense of China PR, who need all three points against the powerful USA to have a chance.
The big game
USA-China PR, Temuco, 26 November, 16:00 (local time).
Coming into the competition China PR can scarcely have imagined they would be in danger of crashing out at the group stage. Yet that is precisely the situation the Thailand 2004 and Russia 2006 runners-up find themselves in after taking just one point from their opening two games. Now, their fate is out of their hands and all they can do is try to beat USA and hope group rivals France slip up against Argentina. The Stars and Stripes, yet to concede a goal here, are already safely though, leaving Tony DiCicco free to rotate his squad should he wish. The beleaguered Steel Rosebuds can still expect a tough time of it, though, with the USA's talented squad players keen to force their way into the reckoning for a starting berth in the quarter-finals.
The other games
France, with three points to their name, would be ill-advised to play for a draw against Argentina (1 point), as this combined with a win for the Chinese could relegate them to third place in the group. The Bleuettes can expect a strong challenge from the Albiceleste who, despite having Joanna Bracamonte and Gabriela Chavez suspended, will not relinquish their own qualification hopes easily.
In Group A, New Zealand (3 pts), who have Ria Percival suspended following her red card against Chile, need to beat England if they are to progress in the competition. Level on four points and only needing draws to qualify are England and Nigeria, the latter providing the opposition for the hosts, who would love to bow out of the competition with a win for their generous and passionate supporters.
0 - The number of goals conceded by USA and scored by China PR at Chile 2008. Interestingly, when the pair met in the semi-final of Russia 2006, it also finished 0-0 (the Asians winning 5-4 on penalties). Will tomorrow's showdown finally produce a goal?
What they said
"We're going for the win so as not to depend on the result of the other game. We can't take anything for granted against Argentina, who have improved greatly since Russia 2006. We've already played in La Florida in a friendly against Chile, so that should help us on the artificial pitch, which I think will suit our game better," Stephane Pilard, France coach.