European champions the Netherlands draw Canada in Women's World Cup in France

Sat, Dec 08 2018

Former World Player of the Year Lieke Martens vows with Denise O'Sullivan during the Netherlands' 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in qualifying. Credit: Al Robinson

European Champions the Netherlands will face 2015 hosts Canada, Cameroon and New Zealand in the group stages of the Women’s World Cup in France next June.

Defending champions the United States will face Sweden, Thailand and Chile, while hosts France face Norway, South Korea and Nigeria as they bid to improve on their quarter-final berth last time.

England have been paired together with neighbours Scotland in a tough group alongside Japan, who beat them in the semi-finals last time out, Scotland and Argentina.

Germany will face China, Spain and South Africa, while Brazil have been drawn in a group with Australia, Italy and Jamaica.

The Dutch qualified for the World Cup via the play-offs after they finished second in a group containing top seeds Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovakia and Northern Ireland.

It went all the way down to the wire as a home victory for Norway in the final qualifying game forced Sarina Weigman’s side to do it the hard way, beating Denmark and Switzerland in the play-offs.

“It’s a tough group but they are all top games,” England manager Phil Neville said after the draw.

“All three have special meanings for English football. England v Argentina will always be special to me because of the historic rivalry but I think all our games are ones fans will want to watch.

“We’ll need to be at our absolute best to beat both Japan – and it’s tricky that we’ll be playing them in the SheBelieves tournament in America next spring – and Scotland.

“Shelley [Kerr] is a fabulous manager. She’s done a great job and the two sets of players know each other inside out.”