WUHAN, China - Top-ranked United States got a tough draw yesterday for this year's women's World Cup, placed in Group B with Sweden, North Korea and Nigeria.
Sweden was runner-up at the 2003 World Cup and is ranked No. 4 by world governing body FIFA. North Korea is ranked No. 5, Asia's top team.
The United States, one of the four seeded teams this year, has won the World Cup twice - the inaugural tournament in 1991 (in China) and again in '99. Norway won in 1995 and Germany is the defending champion.
The Americans, who were knocked out in the semifinals by Germany in 2003, will open against North Korea on Sept. 11 in the western city of Chengdu.
The four Group B teams were also drawn together in the 2003 World Cup.
"We landed in the most difficult group again," American coach Greg Ryan said. "We had the most difficult group in 2003, and now the most difficult in 2007. It's hard to believe we drew exactly the same teams."
Germany was placed in Group A and fared better than the Americans, with preliminary matches against Japan, England and Argentina.
In Group C, Norway was the seeded team and drew games with Ghana, Australia and Canada, while host China was seeded in Group D and will face New Zealand, Brazil and Denmark.