The five European nations who will compete at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup are now known after England pipped France to the final qualifying berth last night.
England join holders
The 1-1 draw in Rennes ensured England ended top of Group 5 to reach the finals for the first time since 1995. Two teams had booked their ticket on Wednesday, reigning world and European champions Germany won 3-2 in Russia to complete a perfect record in Group 4 and extend their run of consecutive victories in UEFA European Women's Championship and World Cup fixtures to 41, dating back to November 1999. Denmark edged out Finland in Group 3 with a 1-0 win in Viborg.
Their Scandinavian rivals Sweden won Group 2 last Sunday with a 2-0 win against the Czech Republic, both goals coming courtesy of Hanna Ljungberg, a crucial part of the team that reached the 2003 final in the United States. Only one team qualified with a match to spare - UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ runners-up Norway, who won the 1995 World Cup, sparking hopes of a repeat when they drew 1-1 in Ukraine on 27 August to clinch Group 1. Norway, like Germany and Sweden, have represented Europe in all four previous final tournaments.
Only one other continent has already completed its qualifying competition, with AFC Women's Championship medalists Australia and Korea DPR, recent winners of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup - joining Asian champions and hosts China, who were inaugural hosts in 1991 and were to stage the 2003 tournament before the outbreak of SARS. The eventual 16 finalists will be enter the draw in Wuhan next March. They will be split in four groups of four teams for the tournament, which runs from 10-30 September 2007 in Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Tiajin and Wuhan.
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