The final draw for the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 took place on Sunday 22 April in Wuhan, the largest city in central China. The line-up for the group stages of the global tournament, taking place from 10 to 30 September 2007, promises excitement and action galore for the 16 contenders and the fans.
Relive the Final Draw
In Group A, reigning world and European champions Germany face the challenge posed by Japan, England and Argentina. The Japanese will be appearing in their fifth successive finals after beating Mexico for a place among the elite, while the astute guidance of Hope Powell helped England stamp their passports to Asia.
Hosts China PR have landed in a similarly intriguing and challenging Group D, where the team led by new coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors will cross swords with New Zealand, Denmark and Brazil, for whom standout player Marta now has an impressive supporting cast . The free-scoring New Zealanders stormed through the Oceania qualifying section and will be hopeful of reaching the knockout stages. Nonetheless, the Chinese players will be confident of overcoming their first phase hurdle following their encouraging win over the FIFA Women's World Stars in yesterday's All Star match.
Group B will see Sweden and USA, silver and bronze medalists respectively at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, lock horns, while Nigeria and Korea DPR will also be vying to progress from the pool. And in Group C, Norway have Ghana, Australia and Canada for company.
More than 800 people attended the ceremony at the Guanggu Science and Technology Exhibition Centre in Wuhan, China, which fused Chinese culture and international style. The show featured the bianzhong, a traditional Chinese percussion instrument also known as a bell set, as well as acrobats for which the city of Wuhan is renowned. The official song of the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007 was also performed live.
Following an impressive parade of flags representing the 16 competing nations, in a procession leading from the entrance of the hall via the audience area and up to the stage, Dr Linsi and Worawi Makudi were welcomed to the stage. Dr Linsi thanked the guests present in the hall and those watching on TV. "FIFA considers it a great honour that the most important event in women's football will once again take place in China," he declared. In his welcome address, the FIFA General Secretary reminded the audience that prize money was at stake for the first time at a women's world championships.
"May I congratulate the 16 participating nations," said Worawi Makudi. "It's a great honour to have so many coaches and players with us this evening. I can hardly wait until the opening match kicks off in Shanghai."
The speeches were followed by the official FIFA Women's World Cup anthem, before Local Organising Committee Chairman Liu Peng and the Mayor of Wuhan Li Xiansheng took to the stage.
One highlight of the ceremony was a performance of the Dance of the Cranes, featuring a stuntman dressed as a crane performing amazing acrobatic manoeuvres accompanied by dancers.
The programme swiftly moved on to the eagerly-awaited draw, supervised by FIFA Director of Competitions Jim Brown and FIFA Manager of Women's Football Tatjana Haenni. The pair were assisted by famous names including German former FIFA Women's World Cup winning coach Tina Theune-Meyer .
Following the draw ceremony, an electrifying percussion show ensured that the event literally ended with a bang. The presenters called all the artists back to the stage one last time for a mass farewell to those present and everyone watching on TV.
FIFA Women's World Cup 2007 group stage draw:
Group A (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu):
Group B (Chengdu, Shanghai, Tianjin):
Group C (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu):
Group D (Wuhan, Tianjin, Hangzhou):