GUANGZHOU, China - Germany and the United States played a 0-0 draw, and China
picked up a 2-0 victory over England on the first day of the Four Nations
women's soccer tournament in southern China.
Friday's much-anticipated match between Germany - the world's No. 1-ranked
team - and the No. 2 Americans lacked much offense. Both teams are playing in
the five-day long tournament without a half dozen key stars, and the offensive
punch was missing with few chances for either side.
The two will be among the favorites to meet in the World Cup final, which
opens September 10 in China - the last major organizational test before the 2008
Several thousand cheering fans attended the games, dwarfed in the cavernous
80,000-seat Guangdong Olympic Stadium.
China, ranked No. 9, picked up two first-half goals from Zhang Ying and Han
Duan to beat No. 12 England.
China, quicker and more athletic, controlled play with Zhang scoring in the
fourth minute on a bouncing shot from 15 meters (yards) that got in behind
England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
Han, China's top forward, put the ball into the net in the 20th, but the play
was called off on a foul. However, she threatened several times in the half and
finally scored just seconds from the end, sending a header into the net off a
corner from Shi Mengyu.
"We were very quick with our passes on the counterattack," said China
assistant coach Wang Haiming, who handled the team in the absence of head coach
Ma Liangyu. Ma missed the match with an illness.
"I think I am capable and confident of leading the team to good results while
Mr. Ma is recovering." Wang said.
England coach Hope Powell said getting behind early hurt.
"I think at times we were very naive and conceding a goal very early set us
back," she said.
The Germans and Americans had few chances in the first half, with American
Lindsay Tarpley and Germany's Anja Mittag getting the best shots. Tarpley also
made several key darting runs in the second half.
Germany had a few chances in the second half. In the 69th American goalkeeper
Hope Solo saved Petra Wimbersky's shot from the right wing. Wimbersky also broke
in alone in the 81st, but Solo snuffed out the chance.
The Americans, looking for a third striker, tried out several including
Natasha Kai, Heather O'Reilly, Lauren Cheney and Tarpley.
American coach Greg Ryan kept his unbeaten sting alive. Since taking over
almost two years ago, he is unbeaten in 32 games when they have been decided in
regulation time. His only loss was on penalties last year against Germany.
Both teams have left a half dozen key players at home.
Germany is without star forward Birgit Prinz, a three-time FIFA world player
of the year. Other missing players, likely to be starters in the World Cup,
include: Kerstin Garefrekes, Renate Lingor, Steffi Jones and Sandra Minnert. The
missing players are studying or nursing injuries.
The Americans are also without five keys players. Top forwards Kristine Lilly
and Abby Wambach, defender Christie Rampone and midfielder Aly Wagner all being
rested. The other key absence is midfielder Shannon Boxx, who is recovering from
The tournament continues Sunday and Tuesday. On Sunday England faces the
United States and China plays Germany. On Tuesday, it's the Americans vs. China
and England against Germany.