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WOMEN'S WORLD CUP

Both Teams Confident Heading Into the Final

October 08, 2003|From Associated Press

European rivals Germany and Sweden are equally optimistic about winning their first world title when they face each other Sunday in the Women's World Cup final.

Both teams took the day off Tuesday, but both seem eager to get going again.

"We have been playing better and better. We know that we can win," Sweden forward Hanna Ljungberg said. "It's no longer a question of just keeping up with Germany. We know we can beat them, and that we can win the final."

Ljungberg has scored two goals so far in the tournament, and teammate Victoria Svensson has three.

But in the final, the Swedes will be facing an in-form Silke Rottenberg, the German goalkeeper who thwarted several attacks from the defending champion United States in the semifinals to earn a 3-0 shutout.

Germany, which received congratulatory messages from German soccer federation President Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder and men's national team Coach Rudi Voeller, will be confident knowing that it won the 2001 European Championship by beating Sweden, 1-0, in the final.

"Obviously we're aware that Sweden wants revenge," German midfielder Pia Wunderlich said. "But there have been a lot of changes to our teams since the European Championship. I don't think they can really be compared. Sure, they may want revenge, but we see it as a whole different thing."

The Swedes believe the 2001 European final result has added to their motivation.

"We have a lot of respect for Germany, and we like how they play," Svensson said. "It's good that we have met them before. It's going to be a tough game."

It will certainly be tough for the Swedes if Birgit Prinz plays.

The German forward has scored a tournament-leading seven goals.

Germany leads the series against Sweden, 6-5, but Sweden won the last time they met at the 2002 Algarve Cup.

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In 31 games over the years, Canada has managed only three victories and three ties against the United States.

But when the teams play the third-place match Saturday at the Home Depot Center, the Canadians figure to have more confidence than in the past.

Defender Randee Hermus said she thinks things might be different this time.

"We have always been in the shadow of the U.S. because they have been so successful," Hermus told FIFAworldcup.com. "But now they can't beat us the way they used to. They are our biggest rivals, and we really want to beat them. We'd like to beat them all the time if we could.

"With the Americans, it's absolutely a grudge match. We know they don't like it when we play aggressively. We play physically regardless, but we know that they've mentioned not liking to play us because we battle them. That's good. We're not cheap or dirty, we just like to win the ball. We don't back down from them."

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