Agence France-Presse

Olympics 2012: US, North Korea to face off in women's soccer

(L-R) Hope Powell, GB women's team coach, Stuart Pearce, GB men's team coach, Andy Hunt, chef de mission BOA, Sir Clive Woodard, director of sports BOA, in a press conference after the official draw for the London 2012 Olympic Football Tournament at Wembley Stadium on April 24, 2012 in London, England.


Julian Finney

The United States women's soccer team will face off with old political foes North Korea at this summer's London Olympics after today's random drawing for first round matches put the two already-battling countries against each other. According to Reuters, the American women will be attempting to win their fourth Olympic title in five tournaments since the first at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The US team has played North Korea in the last four World Cups, but never at the Olympics.

"A lot of the time we are at the center of some controversy on the political stage, but we have to give them the respect they deserve," Tim Ryder, general manager of the US women's team, told the Associated Press. "We try to keep (away) the things that don't pertain to us on the football field and concentrate on the football aspect."

FIFA describes the Olympics as a men's under-23 tournament (with each team allowed three overage players) and for full women's national teams, reported The New York Times. The soccer organization conducted the draw at Wembley Stadium, where both the men and women's finals will be played.

According to the AP, the US team — top-ranked in the world — will also be playing France and Colombia in the first round of the Olympic tournament. France is ranked sixth, according to the most recent FIFA ratings, two spots ahead of North Korea. Colombia comes in at 28th.

The American women's first game will be against France at Hampden Park in Glasgow on July 25, two days before the Games officially open, reported the Los Angeles Times. Their second match will be against Colombia three days later, and they'll finish their first round against North Korea on July 31 at Manchester United's home base, Old Trafford.

"We will start with an excellent opponent that we faced in the World Cup and that is a good thing," US coach Pia Sundhage said to Fox News. "Once again, we will be facing teams with different playing styles and that is a challenge our team enjoys. When the draw happens, it energizes our players and brings even more of a focus to our team. We also have the chance to start scouting and preparing for what will be an entertaining and extremely competitive first round."

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