Author Topic: Football stars gather in China for Women's World Cup draw  (Read 1086 times)

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Football stars gather in China for Women's World Cup draw
« on: April 22, 2007, 11:12:20 AM »
Top players and coaches will gather here on Sunday for the eagerly anticipated Women's World Cup draw, which could decide who sinks and who swims in the September tournament.
FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi and Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam will attend along with Tina Theune-Meyer, former coach of reigning champions Germany.
But the ceremony will be most keenly watched by representatives of the 16 teams from Europe, South and North America, Africa, Asia and Oceania who emerged from qualifying for a shot at the sport's biggest prize.
Champions Germany and hosts China are both seeded along with the top-ranked United States and Norway, rated third after second-placed Germany.
The tournament is likely to be hotly contested with Germany apparently vulnerable and the US looking for a third title.
Sweden will be hoping to go one better than their 2003 second place, while on paper, North Korea have the best chance of becoming the first Asian champions.
But China can count on home advantage and a highly regarded new coach to reverse a dismal recent run, while Brazil are bolstered by World Player of the Year Marta.
As women's football strives to build a reputation and fan base to rival the men, the tournament's fifth edition is a key event.
The game has shot up in the public mind, but has failed to return to the dizzy heights of 1999, when 90,185 -- a world record for a women's event -- packed the Rose Bowl to watch the United States edge China in the final.
The World Cup's return to China, inaugural hosts in 1991, may not generate the same media attention, but could reap dividends from the emerging giant.
"This will surely help the development of women's football in China," said Chinese assistant coach Wang Haiming.
The draw will be preceded by a promotional game late on Saturday, when China take on an international All-Stars team coached by Theune-Meyer and England's Hope Powell.
Wuhan, a sprawling eastern metropolis of eight million, is one of five cities hosting the September 10-30 tournament along with Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin.
The draw starts at around 6:45 pm (1045 GMT) on Sunday.

Teams: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Ghana, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, North Korea, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden, United States