Women's World Cup Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, June 29, 2011 (All times Eastern)

Equatorial Guinea (0-0-0) vs. Norway (0-0-0), 9 a.m.

Augsburg, Germany (Sports Network) - Equatorial Guinea will make its debut at a Women's World Cup on Wednesday as the tiny African nation gets set to face Norway in Group D play.

Equatorial Guinea booked a place in Germany after advancing to the final of the African Women's Championship before losing 4-2 to Nigeria, and former coach Jean-Paul Mpila knows how tough the task of playing in a World Cup will be.

"With each game, we are learning," Mpila said. "You will understand that most of these players are new to international football.

"The World Cup will be a big test for us, but more importantly, it should be an opportunity for these players to grow and learn more."

Mpila guided the team through qualification before being replaced by 40-year- old Italian Marcelo Frigerio, who has led Equatorial Guinea to wins in his first two games, but who can expect things to get much tougher on Wednesday.

Norway has been one of the elite teams in women's soccer over the years, but the Norwegians have slipped a bit, falling to ninth in the FIFA Women's Rankings.

Having reached the knockout round in the previous five Women's World Cups, Norway will be expecting to advance beyond group play again this year. But they will not be favored to finish on top of the group, a distinction that belongs to Brazil.

Three points is a must for Norway from this match if the streak of reaching the knockout round will continue, and although there are a number of new faces in the team for Norway, goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth believes they bring plenty of talent to the side.

"The youngsters coming into the team are more skilful and have great levels of fitness," Hjelmseth said on FIFA's website. "With what they bring to the side, the team today is technically better and more competitive."

Which is bad news for a team like Equatorial Guinea.

06/29 00:34:05 ET

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