U.S. U-20 women to face Argentina and France
CHICAGO (April 22, 2006) – The final draw for the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship in Russia was held at Moscow City Hall this evening as the United States Under-20 women's national team was placed in Group D, where it will face the second-place finisher in the yet-to-be completed African qualifying tournament, as well as Argentina and France, in first round play. The USA, Germany, China and host Russia were awarded tops seeds in the groups prior to the Final Draw. "We are just digesting the draw and there are some very good teams up there (on the board)," said U.S. head coach Tim Schulz. "It is nice to see that there is some parity in the groups. Now we are going to go back to our rooms to start formulating our plans just like all the coaches." The USA opens the tournament, which will be held from Aug. 17-Sept. 3, on Friday, Aug. 18 (the second match day of the competition) against Africa's second place finisher at Torpedo Stadium in Moscow. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) representatives will be determined later in June. The USA will play its second Group D match three days later on Monday, Aug. 21, against FIFA youth world championship debutante Argentina at Torpedo Stadium, and will finish group play on Thursday, Aug. 24, against France in Shchelkovo (Moscow Region) at Podmoskovie Stadium. The first two of the USA's first-round matches will kickoff at 4 p.m. local time / 8:00 a.m. ET while the third group game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. local time / 11 am. ET. "You are looking at some very contrasting styles," said Schulz of the USA's three group opponents. "Certainly, I would imagine some of that culture from the men's games carries over onto the women's, so you could see some of those same styles of play in our opponents. (Our group) is actually pretty fun to see. There's an African team in there and France is always a good contender. Then Argentina, if they bring the (same qualities) as the men's side to the game, they will have a lot of flair and hardness. I've actually seen France and Argentina play on tape and they are very good teams." Group A is headed by seed Russia and also consists of Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. Group B which is headed by seed China, also features Finland, Africa 1 and Canada. Group C, headed by defending U-19 world champions Germany, also features surprise qualifier Switzerland, Mexico and North Korea. The USA won the FIFA U-19 World Championship in 2002 in Canada and finished third at the 2004 tournament in Thailand. For the first time, the tournament will be staged with 16 teams, up from 12 in the previous two FIFA world youth championships for women. The top two finishers in each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals, when the tournament becomes a knockout competition. "I know all the girls are excited to finally find out who we will be playing," said U.S. co-captain Nikki Krzysik. "We've been working so hard for the past two and half months and to have a clear picture of who and when we will be playing will make us work even harder. I was on the last U-19 team in Thailand and I know how intense and tough all the games will be. The older players on this team will make sure we educate the new players about the challenges we will face in Russia." Teams from the same confederation could not be drawn together in the first round, with the exception of Europe, which will have five representatives competing for the world title. Group C turned out to be the group with two European teams in Germany and Switzerland. Russia had already been placed in the top spot in Group A (A1) and will play its first game on the tournament's first day in a mouth-watering opening match against Brazil at the impressive Petrovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg. The 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship will take place at four stadiums in Moscow (Dynamo, Lokomotiv, Shchelkovo and Torpedo) and at one in St. Petersburg (Petrovsky).