Women's World Cup
World Cup game previews with quarterfinals in sight.By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Friday, June 25, 1999) -- Just one team has been eliminated, Mexico, going into the weekend's final first-round matches of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
And every game Saturday and Sunday, at this point, has bearing on either (1) what teams advance to the quarterfinals or (2) what teams qualifiers will meet next Wednesday or Thursday. Attendance is averaging 31,582 for the eight doubleheaders.
Match analyses (Times are Eastern)
SaturdayCanada vs. Russia (noon, Giants Stadium, ESPN): Winner of this Group C game advances to quarterfinals. Momentum is going Russia's way after 5-0 rout of Japan. Canada has been major disappointment and was without injured forward Silvana Burtini in 7-1 loss to Norway. Irina Grijorieva has been spectacular playmaker for Russians, who may be weary following Boston-to-Portland-to-New York trips in a week. They rely on physical strength in the box. Canada has attacking mentality, but is leaving itself open for counter-attacks.
Prediction: Russia 2, Canada 1.
China vs. Australia (2:30 p.m., Giants Stadium, ESPN): Sun Wen leads China attack,
fresh from two-goal outburst in 7-0 demolition of Ghana. Look for some regulars to be rested,
with team a lock for Group D title. Big game for Australia, though, which could make the
quarterfinals with an unlikely win - and a Sweden loss to Ghana. Julie Murray is the lone
offensive threat for the Aussies, who have not played up to expectations. Will Giants Stadium
better the astounding two-night average crowds of 18,898 in Portland for a pair of non-U.S.
Ghana vs. Sweden (5 p.m., Soldier Field, ESPN2): Ghana gets back midfielder Barikisu
Tettey-Quao, red-carded for tackle from behind in opener, but loses two more starters - defender
Regina Ansah, ejected in China match, and defender Rita Yeboah, who picked up her second yellow
card. Ghana's offsides trap has not worked. Sweden is the tournament darkhorse and probably
only needs a draw to advance to a likely quarterfinal pairing against Norway. Defender Jane
Tomqvist, strong in the air, is questionable after suffering facial cuts.
Norway vs. Japan (7:30 p.m., Soldier Field, ESPN2): Rangy midfielder Ann Kristin
Aarones, held out the opener, has joined Marianne Pettersen to form a potent 1-2 punch for
Norway in weak Group C. Central defender Linda Medalen is hard-nosed, but also a flamboyant
personality on and off the field. Midfielder Tomomi Mitsui is excellent at creating chances
for Japan, but there is no oomph in the finishing. Look for Norway to rest some regulars. World
Cup officials hoping for large Scandinavian fan presence.
SundayGermany vs. Brazil (1:30 p.m., Landover, Md., ESPN2): Winner of this match avoids the United States in the quarterfinals. Brazil captures Group B with just a tie. Germany advances with a draw, too. Sissi, 32, has five goals from attacking midfield to lead colorful Brazilians. Nene is another force. Maravilha, strong in the goal, stopped Italy penalty shot. Germany is fresh from forward Inka Grings' three goals in 6-0 rout of Mexico, a match marred by Germans' failure to finish numerous scoring chances.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Germany 1.
Nigeria vs. Denmark (4 p.m., Landover, Md., ESPN2): Which team will be better
prepared emotionally? Nigeria, fired up after an opening-game victory, was buried, 7-1, by the
United States. Denmark, usually ranked just below the world elite, has lost two straight. Like
Russia, the Danes may be facing travel fatigue, with a New York-to-Portland-to-Washington
itinerary the past week. Furthermore, two defenders are out, Marlene Kristensen with a broken
leg and Karina Christensen with a broken nose.
Mexico vs. Italy (4:30 p.m., Foxboro, Mass., ESPN2 taped delay 12:30 a.m.): During
the men's World Cup, FIFA schedules final first-round games in the same group at the same time
so as to avoid the appearance of a conflict. Not so with the women. If Brazil beats Germany
earlier, that means Italy could grab second place in Group B with a huge victory against
outclassed Mexico, which has yielded 13 goals in two matches. Italy is minus-2 in goal
differential, and Germany is plus-6, not an insurmountable gap. But Italy has managed just one
goal so far.
United States vs. North Korea (7 p.m., Foxboro, Mass., ESPN2): The Group A title isn't
clinched, but the Americans would have to lose by five goals to blow it. That's not likely to
happen, though look for North Korea to play conservatively since it could make the quarterfinals
even with a loss, due to superior goal-differential, providing Denmark beats Nigeria earlier.
North Korea will be without Pak Jong Ae, redcarded for a dangerous tackle, and Ri Kum Suk, out
due to two yellow cards. Look for the United States to rest, among others, midfielder Michelle
Akers and defender Kate Sobrero. Sellout crowd, third straight for Americans, likely.
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at email@example.com.