Women's World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, July 2, 2011
(All times Eastern)
Sweden (1-0-0) vs. North Korea (0-1-0), 8 a.m.
Augsburg, Germany (Sports Network) - Sweden's in the best position after its
opening match at the Women's World Cup in its history, but the most important
games still await the 2003 runner-up.
Sweden was expected to open the Women's World Cup with a convincing win, but
after a 1-0 win over Colombia on Tuesday manager Thomas Dennerby was hardly
"Yes, we could have won by a goal or two more, but I shouldn't be too fussy -
the important thing is that we secured three points," Dennerby said.
Although Sweden wasted numerous chances and only scored once, a 57th-minute
goal by Jessica Landstrom, the result still marked the first opening match
win in World Cup history for Sweden.
Now, the Swedes - who have qualified for every World Cup - switch their focus
to the second match in Group C on Saturday against North Korea, which lost its
opener 2-0 to the United States.
If Sweden beats North Korea and the U.S. tops Colombia on Saturday, the Swedes
will seal a quarterfinal berth. With the last match in group play against the
U.S., that would be huge for Sweden after it failed to advance four years ago.
Although Colombia was making its World Cup debut, Sweden was fine with three
points from a tough opener. Dennerby actually believed it was a strong showing
"I'm happy and proud, because it's been a while since we've played as well as
that," Dennerby said.
Sweden could have easily scored more goals against Colombia, but it can end
all the possibilities surrounding goal differential - which cost the team four
years ago in China - with a victory over North Korea.
"Unfortunately, I missed a few clear chances, but you have to put that out of
your mind and focus on the next one that one comes along," Landstrom said. "As
long as we continue to create opportunities, we'll be fine."
North Korea isn't feeling as good as Sweden, although the young side - which
has 10 teenagers on its roster - certainly made the U.S. work hard.
The Koreans created a number of chances in the first half, the most dangerous
through Su Gyong Kim and Yun Mi Jo, but both times were denied by strong saves
from Hope Solo - arguably the best goalkeeper in the world.
With Colombia unlikely to get even a draw against the U.S., North Korea would
move into the pole position for a spot in the knockout stage with a victory at
Impuls Arena against Sweden on Saturday.
The Koreans would move level on points with Sweden with a victory, and then a
win over Colombia on the final day of group play would force Sweden to defeat
the United States to have any hopes of advancing.
But if North Korea leaves an opening after a tiring opener, Sweden may punish
the Asian nation.
"I was pretty happy with the first half [against the U.S.], but in the second
half my players didn't have the energy," North Korea coach Kim Kwang-Min said.
07/02 00:34:25 ET