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Football: US to Face Sweden in Women's World Cup Opener - 2003-07-17

The United States will face Sweden in the opening game of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament in Washington, DC, on September 21. Mike O'Sullivan reports on The draw was announced Thursday in Carson, California.

The U.S. team, as defending champion, is the top seed in group A, which also includes Sweden, Nigeria and North Korea.

The women's World Cup was moved from China to the United States because of the SARS scare. The opening game will be at RFK Stadium in Washington.

Jerome Champagne, an official of football's governing body FIFA, conducted the draw at Home Depot Stadium in Carson, California, one of the World Cup venues. "The United States has been seeded in A-1, and China in D-1," he said.

Michelle Akers, a former U.S. player of the year, assisted.

The 16 national teams learned for the first time who their competitors are. Soccer superstar Mia Hamm, who will play in her fourth World Cup this year, said U.S. players and coach April Heinrichs can now get down to business. "We're excited about the tournament. Now we can move forward," she said. "I think April and the coaching staff, we're going to look at things, and that's going to help them with their decisions and also with our preparation."

Mia Hamm said the United States faces tough competitors, especially the Swedish team.

U.S. women's soccer official Lynn Morgan agrees that Sweden heads a competitive field of U.S. adversaries. "We have been saying for well over two years we think Sweden is one of the top five teams in the world, or top six teams in the world," she said. "And so clearly what we have is a group with possibly four of the seven best teams in the world."

Among other teams in the draw, Norway will face France, Brazil and South Korea in group B.

Germany will square off against Canada, Japan and Argentina in group C, and number-two seed China will face Ghana, Australia and Russia in group D.