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Europeans start on road to China

Published: Saturday 9 July 2005, 14.06CET
With UEFA EURO 2005™ over, 25 European teams all have one goal as qualifying begins for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup: a place in the finals in China.
by Kevin Ashby
from London
Published: Saturday 9 July 2005, 14.06CET

Europeans start on road to China

With UEFA EURO 2005™ over, 25 European teams all have one goal as qualifying begins for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup: a place in the finals in China.

The road to the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup begins in earnest today as Russia play the Republic of Ireland in the first of the European qualifying matches. This continent's 25 most powerful nations were split into five groups of five at a draw in Switzerland on 18 March, with the section winners advancing to the finals in China.

Scandinavian showdown
The eight nations which contested this summer's UEFA European Women's Championship will all be involved, with some even being drawn together. Denmark and Finland were paired in Group 3 with Spain, Poland and Belgium. Norway and Italy are in World Cup qualifying Group 1 along with Ukraine, Serbia and Montenegro and Greece.

Team to beat
The world and European champions Germany will be the team to beat in Group A, representing formidable opposition for Russia, Switzerland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, while Sweden will prove equally tough to conquer in Group 2 for Iceland, Czech Republic, Portugal and Belarus.

La Manche derby
France denied England a place in the last finals in the United States with a play-off victory, but the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ hosts will have a chance to exact revenge in Group 5. The Netherlands, Hungary and Austria complete the quintet. The Austrians - along with the Irish, Belarus, Greece and Israel - are newly promoted to the championship groups after their performances in WOMEN'S EURO qualifying.

Promotion pools
Below the five top groups are three promotion/relegation pools containing four nations. The group winners and best runners-up will play off with the five bottom teams from the First Division for the right to qualify for the 2009 WOMEN'S EURO. Slovenia enter for the first time, while Northern Ireland return having last competed in 1991.

2005/07 European qualifying competition for the 5th FIFA Women's World Cup
First Division
Group 1
1. Norway
2. Italy
3. Ukraine
4. Serbia-Montenegro
5. Greece
Group 2
6. Sweden
7. Iceland
8. Czech Republic
9. Portugal
10. Belarus
Group 3
11. Denmark
12. Finland
13. Spain
14. Poland
15. Belgium
Group 4
16. Germany
17. Russia
18. Switzerland
19. Scotland
20. Rep. of Ireland
Group 5
21. France
22. England
23. Netherlands
24. Hungary
25. Austria
Second Division
Group 6
Group 7
Northern Ireland
Group 8

Last updated: 29/09/06 16.48CET

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