Thailand get toughest World Cup draw, face USA
published : 9 Dec 2018 at 01:44
PARIS: Thailand have drawn defending champion USA for their first match of the 2019 Women's World Cup in Paris in June and July.
The United States will be favourites to lift a record fourth Women's World Cup following the draw for next year's tournament on Saturday, while hosts France play the opening match against South Korea in Paris on June 7.
Thailand were drawn with Jill Ellis' US side, who beat Japan 5-2 in the final to win the World Cup in Canada three years ago, debutantes Chile and 2016 Olympic silver medallists Sweden in Group F.
The first match for the Chaba Kaew will be against the Americans, on June 11 - 3am on June 12, Thailand time.
They then play Sweden on June 16 and Chile on June 20.
Thailand made their World Cup debut at the last tournament in Canada in 2015, emerging wih a 1-2 record after defeating Cote d'Ivoire in the group stage.
Fifty-two matches will be played across nine stadiums in France, the first time the country has hosted the tournament, from June 7 to July 7 with the final set to take place in the Stade de Lyon.
Fifa said almost 200,000 tickets have been sold for the event. World soccer's ruling body is aiming to have a record one billion viewers for next year's tournament.
France, who have never gone past the semifinals, will also face 1995 champions Norway and Nigeria in Group A of the eighth edition of the tournament.
Having recorded their best World Cup finish of third in 2015, Phil Neville's England may find it challenging to repeat that feat after being drawn with Scotland, Argentina and Japan, who knocked the Lionesses out at the semifinal stage in Canada, in Group D.
That looks the toughest group, bringing a wry smile from draw conductor and former England defender Alex Scott alongside former Manchester United and France striker Louis Saha in Paris' Seine Musical venue.
"I know Phil Neville is here tonight and I'm sure he'll be telling his players 'bronze medal is good, but it's about turning that bronze medal into a gold one.' You want to make sure you're on the podium," Scott told the packed auditorium including coaches and players from all 24 participating nations.