England have been drawn in Group D with Denmark and China for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The Lionesses will begin their campaign in Brisbane on July 22 but won’t know their first opponent until February, when intercontinental playoffs complete the 32-team tournament. They will play the winner of Playoff B, which pits Chile against Senegal or Haiti.
The European champions are the heavy favourites in Group D after Saturday’s draw in Auckland, having been ranked fourth in the world by FIFA, ahead of 1999 World Cup finalists China, who are ranked 15th. Denmark, which were defeated by the Netherlands in the 2017 Euros finals, are ranked 18th in the world. Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland, who have qualified for the first time, will face hosts Australia, Nigeria and Olympic champions Canada in Group B.
Speaking to Sky News Australia, England head coach Sarina Wiegman, said: “It’s really challenging, and I’m looking forward to it. We know Denmark pretty well and they know us pretty well too.
“China is an opponent that I have played against a couple of times lately in my former job (as Netherlands head coach). They have been in transition a little bit, they changed coaches last year. At the Olympics they were struggling a little bit, but they have found their way back. A very good opponent, don’t ever underestimate them."
The Republic of Ireland, who qualified with a 1-0 victory over Scotland, will also play in Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane. In addition, they will face hosts The Matildas in the opening match. Meanwhile, Group E will see a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final after the United States and Netherlands were placed together. They will be joined by newcomers Vietnam and the Group C play-off winner.
The United States, who were defeated 2-1 by England in a friendly at Wembley in October, are aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup victory. But former England international Ian Wright, who was part of the draw, believes the Lionesses are in a ‘good place’ as challengers under Wiegman.
He said: "We’ve got a very good group of ladies, a world-class manager in Sarina and we’ve proven that we can compete with the best," said Wright, adding: "We beat the USA the other day. We go into this World Cup with a lot of confidence, so you’re hoping that we can take some of the form that we had in the Euros into the World Cup."
The 2023 World Cup will be the first to feature 32 teams, up from 24 at the 2019 tournament in France, with an intercontinental play-off competition in February determining the final three entries. The 32 countries were divided into eight groups of four. The top two teams in each group will advance to the elimination rounds.
2023 World Cup draw in full:
- Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland.
- Group B: Australia, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Canada.
- Group C: Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan.
- Group D: England, Group B play-off winner, Denmark, China.
- Group E: USA, Vietnam, Netherlands, Group A play-off winner.
- Group F: France, Jamaica, Brazil, Group C play-off winner.
- Group G: Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina.
- Group H: Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea.
What is the Women’s 2023 World Cup schedule?
July 20 - August 3: Group stage
August 5 - August 8: Round of 16
August 11 - August 12: Quarter-finals
August 15: Semi-final
August 16: Semi-final
August 19: Third place play-off
August 20: Final