A year ago Greg Dyke, perceptive but careless, stole the headlines by drawing a finger across his throat as England were handed a World Cup draw that paired Roy Hodgson’s team with Italy and Uruguay and included a match in the Amazon jungle.
There is no danger of a repeat this afternoon when the draw for the 2015 Women’s World Cup is made, and not just because the Football Association chairman will not be in Ottawa and there are no jungles in Canada.
The format and lack of depth in the women’s game means England should reach the knockout stages whatever the draw. Any danger of a ‘group of death’ scenario disappeared when Fifa promoted Brazil above Sweden into the seeded pot thus ensuring England could not get Brazil and a team like the US.
The 24 teams will be split into six groups of four, from which 16 qualify for the knock-out stages.
As hosts Canada, coached by Englishman John Herdman, are seeded. Although they won bronze at the London Olympics, defeating Team GB, England would be happy to be paired with them. The other seeds are European champions Germany, who eased to a 3-0 win over England at Wembley last month, World Cup holders Japan, favourites and 2011 finalists the United States, France, who put England out in 2011 on penalties, and Brazil.
The other pots are determined by geography so Sweden are with England. South Korea, China and Australia are the ones England would probably rather avoid.
Mark Sampson, England’s manager, was careful not to pre-judge the draw. He said: “There is no team we would like to avoid, the same way there is no one team we would definitely like to play.”
Sampson was challenged to make the semi-finals by Chelsea’s Emma Hayes, the only female manager in the Women’s Super League. “With the level of investment in the game, a semi-final appearance has to be our minimum goal,” said Hayes. “I think anything less means we would be underachieving.”
Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke said there would be a 50 per cent increase in prize-money for the finals, which would use goal-line technology. More controversially, he reiterated that all matches would be played on artificial pitches. There is a legal challenge to this by some players before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario but Valcke said claims that using the pitches was discriminating against women were “crazy” and “a nonsense”.
This is the first 24-nation tournament for the women, a 50 per cent expansion, and there are eight debutants. Fifa will be hoping there is not a result to match Germany’s 11-0 win over Argentina in the 2007 finals.
Women’s World Cup 2015: Draw Seeding Pots
Draw timing: 5pm (GMT)
Draw venue: Ottawa
Six groups of four. Top two qualify for last 16 knock-out round, together with four best third-placed teams.
Pot 1 (seeds) Canada (hosts, Fifa ranking 8), USA (1), Germany (2), Japan (3), France (4), Brazil (6)
Pot 2 New Zealand (19), Mexico (25), Nigeria (35), Costa Rica (40), Cameroon (51), Ivory Coast (64).
Pot 3 Australia (10), China (14), South Korea (17), Thailand (30), Colombia (31), Ecuador (49)
Pot 4 Sweden (5), England (7), Norway (9), Netherlands (15), Spain (16), Switzerland (18)
Finals to be played 6 June- 5 July 2015 at Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.Reuse content