SPORTS

Field filling up for Women's World Cup in Canada, just three berths left

10/27/2014 11:25 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST
TORONTO - And then there were three.

Cameroon, Costa Rica, the Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria and the U.S. have all qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015, leaving just three berths up for grabs for next summer's 24-team tournament.

The three remaining finalists will come from the winners of two separate playoffs and the Oceania championship.

Barring a miracle, defending champion New Zealand will emerge out of Oceania once again, having beaten host Papua New Guinea 3-0 and Tonga 16-0 so far at the regional qualifier. The Kiwis play the Cook Islands on Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago, which finished fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, will face Ecuador, the third-place finisher in South America, in an intercontinental playoff for the chance to play in Canada. The two-legged playoff will start Nov. 8 in Quito with the return leg Dec. 2 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland and Ukraine are currently embroiled in playoffs to decide the eighth and final European berth in Canada.

Italy will take a 2-1 lead to Lviv on Wednesday for the second leg of its semifinal with Ukraine while the Dutch hold a 2-1 advantage going into Thursday's second leg with Scotland in Rotterdam.

The home-and-away final is scheduled for late November.

Mexico became the 21st country to book its ticket to the women's showcase after defeating Trinidad and Tobago 4-2 in extra time in suburban Philadelphia on Sunday to finish third at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The U.S. won the CONCACAF tournament Sunday, defeating Costa Rica 6-0. Both teams had already qualified by reaching the confederation final.

The top-ranked Americans have qualified for every Women's World Cup since the tournament's inception in 1991 and have never finished lower than third. The U.S. won in 1991 and 1999, finished runner-up in 2011 and were third in 1995, 2003 and 2007.

For No. 30 Costa Rica, it's a first trip to the Women's World Cup.

The Ivory Coast qualified Saturday with a goal six minutes from time to defeat South Africa 1-0 and finish third at the African championship in Windhoek, Namibia. For the Ivorians, it was a welcome reprieve after losing to Cameroon on a 118th-minute goal in the African semifinal.

Nigeria won the African championship for the ninth time with a 2-0 victory over Cameroon, who both qualified by reaching the final.

The Nigerians have played in the six previous World Cups. It's a first for No. 51 Cameroon.

The official draw for the Women's World Cup is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Ottawa. The tournament, whose use of artificial turf is the subject of a human rights complaint from a group of elite players, runs June 6 to July 5 in Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Canada, ranked eighth by FIFA, qualified automatically as host.

The Canadian women face No. 3 Japan on Tuesday in a friendly at Vancouver's B.C. Place Stadium, site of the World Cup final. Japan defeated Canada 3-0 on Saturday in Edmonton.

Qualified

Canada (host), Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Ivory Coast, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, U.S.

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