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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 upset.

"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 from Sweden.

"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


Women's World Cup News
· Herdman to coach Canadian women's soccer team

· Germany midfielder Garefrekes retires

· North Korea banned from 2015 Women's World Cup

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