Two-time world champions USA are always among the favourites when a FIFA Women's World Cup rolls around. But they will be in for a baptism of fire on 11 September when they take on Korea DPR in their first Group B match. With some new faces, the Americans will have their hands full against the speedy Asians who have been tipped by many as outside favourites.
USA - Korea DPR, Chengdu, Tuesday 11 September, 17:00 (local time)
The USA are hoping to get back to the top of the heap in the world of women's football, and nothing less than a win will do. As for the Koreans, with a handful of players from the U-20 world champion side, a result against the mighty Americans, who some consider to be in a period of decline, would represent a major coup. Bragging rights aside, three points on opening day of arguably the toughest group at these finals would be invaluable.
The USA will be relying on five-time World Cup veteran and captain Kristine Lilly to lead the charge. With more caps than anyone (man or woman), her experience is crucial. Up front, battering ram Abby Wambach poses a major goal threat while Shannon Boxx, just back from injury, is the ball winner in the side. The Koreans will be counting on old timer Ri Kum Suk, but have six players from the team that swooped to win the U-20 World Cup last year in Russia, most notably jet-heeled striker Ri Un Suk.
The two sides met in the first round of the last Women's World Cup in the USA in 2003 and before that at the finals in 1999. On both occasions the Americans won out 3-0.
"The Koreans are very good. We need to keep the pressure on them and make them adjust to our game. Opening games tend to be a little nervy and not the best, but in this one you're going to see two of the best teams at the tournament on offer." Greg Ryan, USA coach
"We will not be intimidated by the USA. Our approach will be to attack our way to victory and rely on our never-say-die spirit." Kim Kwang-Min, Korea DPR coach
"North Korea are the first team standing between us and the title. They move the ball very quickly. We will have to keep them in front of us and keep the pressure all over them." Shannon Boxx, USA midfielder