AUCKLAND – The stage is set for the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand with a 16-strong field now decided and the final draw being completed overnight.
A total of 32 matches will be played during the tournament from 28 October to 16 November in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.
Canada has been drawn in Group A alongside New Zealand with the two facing off in the opening match on 28 October at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium. Denmark and Colombia are also in Group A which will be based in Auckland for the first two matches.
USA, who won the CONCACAF tournament ahead of Canada and Costa Rica over the weekend, was automatically drawn in Hamilton-based Group C with France, Japan and Paraguay. The seeded Americans begin their campaign against Japan at Waikato Stadium on 30 October.
Hamilton’s third match day will pit footballing powerhouse Germany against Korea DPR from Group B which promises to be a keenly fought battle since both teams have been tipped as title contenders.
Group B will initially be based in Christchurch, where the Germans are seeded.
Also playing at QEII Stadium will be Costa Rica, North Korea and African runners-up Ghana.
This group could throw up some surprises as Ghana is a relative unknown and Costa Rica has never competed at a FIFA women’s finals tournament.
A tantalizing fixture between seeded Brazil and England on October 30 will kick things off in Wellington as the city hosts Group D also containing Korea Republic and African champions Nigeria. This will arguably be the most hotly contested group.
Wellingtonians have the added bonus of seeing the Young Football Ferns in action on match day three as they take on South American champions Colombia at Wellington Stadium.
Quarter-finals will follow in Wellington and Hamilton with Christchurch then hosting the semi-finals and Auckland featuring the third and fourth place play-off and final on 16 November.
Chris Simpson, CEO of the Local Organising Committee, is thrilled with the final draw and is looking forward to welcoming all 16 teams.
“It’s very exciting for us,” says Simpson. “Each of the four host cities will feature a wide variety of footballing styles from the speed of the Asian teams to the creative flair of the South Americans, from the power of the African nations to the discipline of the Europeans. It makes for very entertaining football.”
The draw to determine the final group positions took place at the home of FIFA in Zurich overnight. Three teams from CONCACAF (North/Central America) and two teams from CAF (Africa) were allotted their spots as at the time of the official draw on 1 June, 2008, the qualifiers for these zones were still ongoing.
To view the final match schedule visit FIFA.com here
Group A: New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Colombia
Group B: Costa Rica, Germany, Korea DPR, Ghana
Group C: Japan, USA, France, Paraguay
Group D: Brazil, England, Korea, Nigeria
Story Provided by NZF Media. For more information visit www.nzsoccer.com
For full draw details visit www.FIFA.com