England drawn with Japan in Women's World Cup group
England eased through their qualifying group
By Tony Leighton
England have been drawn against Japan, Mexico and New Zealand in the group stages of the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany next summer.
Hope Powell's team won their qualifying group before beating Switzerland 5-2 on aggregate in September's play-offs.
Japan, USA and Brazil were the seeded teams for the draw along with hosts Germany, who are seeking their third successive victory in the finals.
The competition will take place between 26 June and 17 July 2011.
England's is considered arguably the easiest of the four groups at the 16-nation tournament, to be played in nine cities around Germany.
Japan, who sit five places above Powell's team at fifth in the world rankings, will be favourites to top Group B.
But when the teams drew 2-2 at the group stage of the 2007 World Cup in China, England had the better of the game in what to date has been the only meeting between the two nations.
All three of the teams we'll come up against have improved in recent years and it will be tough - and our first aim will be simply to get out of the group
England coach Hope Powell
England have likewise met New Zealand and Mexico only once each, beating the Mexicans 5-0 in the 2005 Algarve Cup but being held to a goalless draw by New Zealand at last month's Peace Cup in South Korea.
Powell could not hide her delight as she witnessed the draw for next year's finals at the Frankfurt Congress Centre on Monday evening.
"I'm very pleased," she said. "I was dreading getting the fourth slot in Group A, [France, not England, were drawn alongside Germany, Canada and Nigeria] so when we got Group B I thought, 'I'll take that!'
"We'll certainly have our work cut out, though. All three of the teams we'll come up against have improved in recent years and it will be tough - and our first aim will be simply to get out of the group."
England's build-up to the finals begins with an appearance at the Cyprus Cup, which they won in 2009, during early March and they will have at least two other friendlies before the World Cup gets underway on 26 June, with the final set for 17 July.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.