Gasps filled the room when the combatants for FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011’s Group C were revealed. The section contains three of the world’s most feared competitors: USA, Korea DPR and Sweden. The Americans struggled to book their ticket at the big show in Germany, but the two-time champions and two-time Olympic gold medallists will still be in front of the pack as heavy favourites. Korea DPR, who have been coming on at youth level in recent years, bring their usual short-passing game and organisation. Sweden will aim to revive their former glory days of the 1990s while Colombia, playing in their first-ever Women’s World Cup, are very much the outsiders.
USA: Pia Sundhage will guide the USA up against her native Sweden, where she was a playing icon during the 1980s and 90s. The Americans slipped up against Mexico in the qualifying tournament in Cancun and barely eked past Italy in the resultant play-off. Even so, the coach’s insistence on allying a stylish passing game with the team’s traditional competitiveness and physical power will have the Stars and Stripes – No1 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – sitting sturdy favourites. The USA are a tough ask when titles are on the line, and with the likes of Hope Solo and Abby Wambach in the team, Germany 2011 is likely to be no exception. “The loss against Mexico and the play-off against Italy were a real eye opener; we realized that we're not unbeatable,” Sundhage told FIFA.com. “Now my girls are aware of the danger.”
The big game
USA-Korea DPR: The last time the Americans took on Korea DPR at a FIFA Women’s World Cup came at China 2007, where the Asians were able to move the ball around direct North Americans, eventually earning a 2-2 draw. The Koreans also showed they were up for a battle, their willingness to stand up and fight evident when Abby Wambach stumbled off the pitch spilling blood and in need of emergency stitches. In the last major competition for both teams, the 2008 Olympic finals, it was the USA that came up trumps, winning Gold while the Koreans headed for home after the group stages.
The players to watch
Christie Rampone (USA), Abby Wambach (USA), Hope Solo (USA), Jo Yun-Mi (PRK), Ri Un Hyang (PRK), Yorely Rincon (COL), Catalina Usme (COL), Therese Sjogran (SWE), Sara Larsson (SWE), Lotta Schelin (SWE)
0 – the number of times the United States have failed to finish in the top four of a FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the other end of the spectrum, minnows Colombia have never played a match against non-South American opposition.
Have your say
USA or Korea DPR? Who do you think are favourites heading into Group C action at the 2001 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany? Click on 'Add your comment' to make your opinion known.