Japan will enjoy home advantage against Mexico in the first leg of the play-off for the last remaining place at the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007. That was the outcome of this Friday's draw in the Star Room of Tokyo's Westin hotel, held under the supervision of FIFA Director of Competitions Jim Brown. He was joined for the occasion by Japanese FA President Saburo Kawabuchi and his Mexican counterpart Justiniano Compean Palacios.
The 15 December draw was made by Worawi Makudi, Chairman of the Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup. Japan, who finished third in the Asian (AFC) qualifiers, will host Mexico, who placed third in the CONCACAF equivalent, on 10 March 2007, with the return game scheduled for a week later on 17 March. The away-goals rule will apply in the event of the teams finishing level on goal difference after the two legs, with extra-time and finally penalties if necessary.
In the wake of the draw, Saburo Kawabuchi told FIFA.com: "The home leg will probably be played in the National Stadium in Tokyo. It's important that Japan keep a clean sheet in that game. Mexico will then be playing at home in the Aztec Stadium, which can hold 100,000 fans. Japan have held Mexico in the past, and in view of our performance at the Asian Games in Doha, I think the team will give a good account of themselves. For the home game, we'll also be able to call on the services of midfielder Tomomi Miyamoto (who returned to the side against Australia in November after a two-year maternity break), although I'm not sure whether she'll be available for the return in Mexico. Hopefully, the fans will turn out in force to support the team."
Mexican FA President Justiniano Compean Palacios said: "Lady Luck smiled on us by giving us the second leg at home. The coach and players will certainly be happy about that. The team's preparations for the play-off are going well. In Leo Cuellar we have an experienced coach who has been in charge of the women's team for some time now. The only disadvantage is the fact that our women don't have their own domestic league, but they are very dedicated and I think we'll qualify for the World Cup finals. Achieving that would hopefully prove the breakthrough for the women's game in Mexico, and attract more fans and sponsors to help pave the way for the formation of a national league."