Wed, Oct 01, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Americans about to face Norway in World Cup match

AP , NEW YORK

Defending Women's World Cup champion US will have to beat its biggest rival to reach the semifinals of this year's tournament.

The Americans, who completed a perfect first round by beating North Korea 3-0 on Sunday, will face 1995 champion Norway in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Norway, which is ranked second in the world by FIFA, is the only nation that has a winning record against the top-ranked Americans.

"We know that Norway's a great team and we just have to be on top of our game to do something special against them," said US striker Abby Wambach, who scored the first goal Sunday from the penalty spot.

"They're going to come out and be on top of their game, as every team is going to be in the quarterfinals. It's single-elimination and you've got to win to get through."

China, the 1999 runner-up, will face Canada in the last eight in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday.

"I have looked into Canada by watching tapes. We may have some changes to make when we play them," China coach Ma Liangxing said. "We will need to play an aggressive and attacking game."

In the other quarterfinals, Group B winner Brazil takes on Sweden in Foxboro and European champion Germany plays Russia in Portland.

The winner of the Brazil-Sweden match will play either China or Canada in the semifinals in Portland, while the US or Norway faces Germany or Russia.

Germany and the US were the only two teams to get through the first round with perfect records.

The Germans topped Canada, Japan and Argentina while the Americans beat Sweden and Nigeria before downing North Korea. China, which had been a heavy favorite to win its first world title at home until SARS forced the competition to be moved, was held to a 1-1 draw by Australia in its second match.

But the Chinese beat Russia in their final match and clinched first place in Group D.

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