By Matt Walsh
CANBERRA, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- After playing out one of the most intense matches at the 2016 Olympic Games, the fallout from which is still felt today. The No. 1-ranked United States Women's National Team (USWNT) will face off again with Sweden at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, following Saturday night's draw in Paris.
Drawn together, along with Thailand and Chile, in Group F for the tournament beginning June 7 in France, tensions remain high between these teams following Sweden's controversial quarterfinal win over the United States in Brazil.
Following the 1-1 draw after extra time in 2016, the Swedes advanced to the semis after penalty kicks which they won 4-3. After the game, team USA goalkeeper Hope Solo labelled the Swedish players "a bunch of cowards" for their defensive mindset during the encounter. That has set the scene for a feisty re-match in Le Havre on June 20 next year.
Speaking on Sunday morning following the World Cup draw in France, team USA coach Jill Ennis diplomatically described the Swedes as a "familiar foe", but skipper Carli Lloyd said her charges hadn't forgotten the tense encounter in Brazil.
"I just knew they were going to be in our group," said Lloyd said on Sunday. "Looking back to the last big tournament, we have that bad taste in our mouth from the last time we played them. It was a difficult game. So for us, it's even more motivation meeting them in the group stage."
In addition to the 2016 match-up, the USA and Sweden have a storied past, having played one another at the last four World Cup tournaments in the group stage. They are yet to clash in a knockout round at the World Cup.
More recently, the United States and Sweden drew 0-0 in 2015 in Canada, while the Scandinavians got the better of the Americans in 2011 in Germany, winning 2-1 in their group stage match.
Sweden were the World Cup runners up in 2003 but have failed to emulate its successes from earlier in the century. Despite currently being ranked 9th in the world, coach Peter Gerhardsson said his side has the talent to beat the USA and challenge for the trophy.
"This is the first time for me (against the USA) but I know about the history," he said at the draw. "(But) we can go all the way. We can do it."
Team USA enter the competition as defending champions and pre-tournament favorites, having defeated Japan 5-2 in the 2015 World Cup final, a scoreline which featured a brilliant hat-trick from Lloyd.
Elsewhere in Group F, Chile makes its women's World Cup debut, while Thailand will make its second appearance after first qualifying for the tournament four years ago in Canada.
The 2019 FIFA women's World Cup begins in France on June 7 and concludes on July 7.