Denmark and Ukraine have secured the last available places in Monday's FIFA Women's World Cup play-off draw, emulating England, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland by topping their sections as the group stage drew to a close.
Denmark have only once missed out on a place at the World Cup finals, failing to make the grade in 2003, but they knew a repeat was on the cards if they lost their Group 3 decider at home to closest pursuers Scotland. A tense encounter ultimately finished 0-0, meaning Kenneth Heiner-Møller's side ended qualifying with 45 unanswered goals, yet they were denied the win that would have strengthened their hopes of seeding in the play-off draw.
Heiner-Møller told UEFA.com: "
The ambition for us was to win our group, so of course we are satisfied with the result today. However I am sligthly disappointed that we failed to win this match as this would have given us a higher seeding in the upcoming draw on Monday. I have no preference about which team we face in the next round. They are all good teams of course, but I actually believe that we can beat any of our possible opponents over two matches."
Ukraine reached their first major tournament in qualifying for UEFA Women's EURO 2009, but they needed a home win against Poland to deny their visitors – who led Group 4 by two points at kick-off – a maiden play-off appearance. Disaster beckoned when Agata Tarczyńska's 18th-minute goal gave Poland the lead, however Olha Boychenko equalised just past the hour and Daryna Apanaschenko struck on 67 and 72 minutes to take Ukraine through against a side that had beaten them 4-1 at the start of qualifying. Poland's misery was compounded by a late red card for Marlena Kowalik.
I am pleased that we got the result we wanted and we were able to make good the mistakes made during qualifying," Ukraine coach Anatoliy Kutsev said. "In the first half the players were too hyped up and during the break, I said, "Forget about [recently retired Nataliya] Zinchenko, forget about [Olena] Mazurenko and produce the football that you know how to play.'"
The eight contenders will now be split into two seeding pots for the draw at 14.00CET on Monday in Nyon, with seeding based on qualifying results for this competition and EURO 2009. One ball containing a team name from each pot will be drawn out to meet in a tie and placed in a bowl; the first side picked out of those two will be at home in the opening leg.
The matches will played on 11/12 and 15/16 September, and the four winners will progress to join hosts and holders Germany in next summer's final tournament. Meanwhile, the defeated sides will compete in a series of knockout play-offs in October, also to be drawn on Monday, with one team then emerging to face the third-ranked CONCACAF nation for a further berth in the 16-team final tournament from 26 June to 17 July 2011.
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