With the preliminary competitions for FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 gone enjoying a break, there is another women's tournament kicking off this weekend.
Korea Republic may have been eliminated from the regional qualifiers in July, but they have a good chance to taste world-class football by hosting the 2006 Peace Queen Cup. Eight national teams representing four continents will participate in this miniature tournament and among them, no less than five teams are in the top ten of the FIFA ranking: USA, Brazil, Denmark, Italy and Canada.
To complete the line-up, Australia and the Netherlands were also invited by the Sunmoon Peace Football Federation, who has organised a biannual club competition called 'Peace Cup Korea' in 2003 and 2005. This year's tournament will be held in six cities, namely Seoul, Suwon, Cheonan, Changwon, Masan, and Gimhae.
Group A favourites Brazil, who are to play the opening match in Seoul against hosts Korea Republic on Saturday, were the first team to arrive in Korea. The Auriverdes, led by coach Jose Teixeira, will be banking on the scoring touch of their star forward Katia who found the net twice against the South Koreans at USA 2003. The Olympique Lyonnais striker said: "We are looking forward to this rematch against Korea and I will do my best so our team can win again."
However, coach An Jong-Goan of Korea Republic is confident that his revamped defensive tactics will work against the Brazilians. "We used four defenders in the (AFC Women's) Asian Cup but it will be different this time with our three-player defence." At the other end, his first choice striker will be Jung Jung-Suk who scored seven goals in the Asian championship.
Another opening day fixture sees a meeting between Italy and Canada. When they last played each other in a friendly on 25 June, the Canadians won 2-1 at home but this will be their first competitive match since 1999. Both teams boast attacking talents in Marsico Teresina Lina and Christine Sinclair respectively, which makes this encounter even more unpredictable.
Meanwhile, two time world champions USA will be fighting for first place in Group B with Australia and Denmark, both of whom have already qualified for the finals in China, and the Netherlands.
This is the second visit to Korea for the coach Greg Ryan, who came to Seoul as a New York Cosmos player for a friendly with the Korean national team in 1979. He said: "This tournament is a good opportunity to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers in November. Our goal is to win the trophy with the best players we have: forward Lindsay Tarpley, defender Lori Chalupny, and goalkeeper Hope Solo are the players to watch."
In what could be captain Kristine Lilly's 314th appearance for the national team, USA will face a tough challenge from Denmark in their first game. Kenneth Heiner-Moller's side includes goal scoring midfielder Catherine Paaske Sorensen, arguably one of Europe's top players, as well as the veteran centre back and captain Katrine Pedersen.
Earlier on Sunday, Australia will play the Group B opener against the Netherlands in Gimhae. Their inspirational skipper Cheryl Salisbury led the Matildas to the final of the AFC Women's Asian Cup on home soil and she will be keen to prove that the feat was no fluke.
The respective group winners advance to the final, to be held at Seoul's FIFA World Cup™ Stadium on Saturday 4 November.
Group A winners v Group B winners