Tue, Sep 30, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Ghana does the hard work for China

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP The Africans beat Australia to put China in the next round, while the US cruised past North Korea despite resting its top players

AP , PORTLAND, OREGON

Adjoa Bayor, center, of Ghana dribbles against the defense of Australia during the first round of the FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Ghana gave China an assist Sunday night.

Ghana beat Australia 2-1, clinching China a spot in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals even before China took the field for its match against Russia.

China then defeated Russia 1-0 to claim a first-place finish in Group D play.

In Columbus, Ohio, the US advanced to the quarterfinals after beating North Korea 3-0 to maintain its perfect record and take first place in Group A. Sweden, which topped Nigeria 3-0, also reached the next round.

China, which advanced despite scoring just three goals so far, now plays Canada on Thursday at PGE Park, while Russia, the runner-up in group D, will play Germany.

"I imagine the fans and the media back home might not be satisfied with three goals in three games, but we'll keep working on it," China coach Ma Liangxing said.

"We may have some changes to make when we play" Canada, Ma said. "We will need to play an aggressive and attacking game."

China took the lead in the 16th minute when Bai Jie got past Russia goalkeeper Alla Volkova, who ran helplessly behind.

Sun Wen missed an opportunity for China when her first-half header caromed off the goalpost.

China, which was supposed to host the World Cup before it was moved because of the SARS outbreak, beat Ghana 1-0 but played to a 1-1 tie against Australia before downing Russia to claim the top ranking in Group D.

The game was played before an announced crowd of 19,132 at PGE Park, home of the Triple-A Portland Beavers minor league baseball team.

In Columbus, the Americans rested several stars, including FIFA Player of the Year Mia Hamm, letting its depth make the difference.

"We told her the scenarios before the game," said US coach April Heinrichs, who has juggled the lineup for each game. "I'm sure she's a little disappointed."

The unbeaten Americans will play Norway in their quarterfinal match Wednesday in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Sweden will face Brazil in the quarterfinals.

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