Game & TV schedule
Women's World Cup
Opening weekend is a hit; so what’s next?
By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Monday, June 21, 1999) -- The United States wins the opener. Six of the eight first-round
games are close, three determined by one goal, three ties. Big crowds. One showcase match.
Tight competition for quarterfinal berths in three of the four groups.
That's the capsule summary of the first weekend of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Attendance average for the four doubleheaders: 33,359. That includes the record 78,972 in
Giants Stadium for the U.S. game, as well as 23,289 in San Jose, Calif., for Japan-Canada and
China-Sweden, 17,102 in Pasadena, Calif., for Germany-Italy and Nigeria-North Korea, and 14,873
in Foxborough, Mass., for Australia-Ghana and Norway-Russia.
Expect a full-house 65,000 for the United States in its second game, Thursday in Chicago
Jerry Langdon’s first-round prediction record: 7-1 (.875)
The United States should have no problems winning all three games. Nigeria has an explosive
attack, but the Americans figure to exploit huge gaps in its defense. But will the United
States be able to contain colorful striker Mercy Akide? The Denmark-Nigeria game Sunday
probably will determine the second-place finisher. North Korea is a spunky side, and had
Nigeria on the ropes with a series of near-miss corner kicks in the closing minutes of their
2-1 loss. Why was its captain, defender Kim Sun Hui, on the bench the entire game? Denmark is
disciplined, but without much offensive imagination.
Mexico, an outclassed 7-1 loser to Brazil, figures to be the goal-differential victim against
Germany and Italy, too. It does not have the physical strength or ability to be competitive in
this toughest of four groups. Brazil is favored, but should get tested against the two European
powers. First place in the group means avoiding the United States in the quarterfinals. But at
this point Germany and Italy just want to survive in the group. Neither showed much attacking
mentality in their methodical 1-1 draw, particularly Italy.
Wide open is the second qualifying slot. Give the No. 1 finish to Norway, which is in by far
the easiest four-team bracket. Linda Medalen is dominant in the central defense, though
questions exist on the flanks. Japan was impressive with its speed and passing, dominating
slow Canada though winding up in a 1-1 tie. Canada is uncertain due to the left hamstring
problem of goal-scorer Silvana Burtini. It also needs for attacking midfielder Charmaine Hooper
to be more forceful. Perhaps bothered by an early yellow card, she was a non-factor against
Japan. Russia was too slow and ponderous against Norway, but may have better luck against its
remaining two foes.
China and Sweden appear headed for a 1-2 finish, which would put Sweden against Norway in the
quarterfinals. The two teams were in the weekend's best game, a well-deserved 2-1 victory by
China, with the victors not happy with their play. "Our technique was not as good as it usually
is," star midfielder Liu Ailing said. China wore down Sweden with its speed on the wings.
Sweden showed a dangerous counterattack. Ghana will be without midfielder Barikisu Tettey-Quao,
ejected in the 26th minute for a tackle from behind against Australia. The play of its
21-year-old goalie, Memunatu Sulemana was extraordinary.
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at
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