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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Women's World Cup set to kick off
Women's World Cup
Fifa has high expectations for a successful tournament in China
World champions Germany kick off the 2007 Women's World Cup in China on Monday with a Group A game against Argentina in Shanghai.

Sixteen teams, including England, are taking part in the tournament, which runs from 10 September to 30 September.

This is only the second Women's World Cup finals that England, who with Japan are also in Group A, have reached.

Key to England hopes will be striker Kelly Smith, who has scored 21 goals in 61 games for England.

Described by Dutch coach Vera Pauw as "the best player in the world", the 28-year-old Smith is the first and only English player to have played professionally in the United States.

606: DEBATE

"It's been a dream of mine to play at a World Cup for well over a decade," Smith recently told the FA website.

"I can't wait to play on the biggest stage of them all - in a competition which everyone says is amazing. Hopefully, we can come out and have a good tournament."

England's first game is against Japan on Tuesday in Shanghai, before Hope Powell's side face Germany in the same city on 14 September.

Their final Group A game is against Argentina in Chengdu on 17 September.

England qualified for the finals after finishing top of their five-team qualifying group, ahead of nearest rivals France, by three clear points.

Having won the tournament in 2003 in the United States, Germany bring a wealth experience to China in defence of their title.

Half of Silvia Neid's current squad were involved in the triumph at USA 2003.

While England have Smith, Germany will look to Birgit Prinz - voted Fifa Women's World Player in 2003, 2004 and 2005 - for inspiration.

This year's tournament will be broadcast to more than 200 countries, up 25% from the previous finals four years ago.



SEE ALSO
Women's World Cup schedule
21 Aug 07 |  Women


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