CARSON, Calif. -- Sun Wen, the MVP of the last Women's World
Cup, scored on a header in the 29th minute Sunday night and China
began the 2003 tournament with a 1-0 victory over Ghana.
China, beaten by the United States in the 1999 World Cup final,
was scheduled to host this year's tournament. But the SARS outbreak
there led FIFA officials to shift the competition to the United
The skilled Chinese, one of the world's top teams for the past
decade, controlled the game with superior passing and tactics.
Goalkeeper Zhao Yan got the shutout, although China's defense kept
Ghana from mounting many serious threats.
The 30-year-old Sun, who has said she is retiring after the
World Cup, was a constant presence with her dribbling and pinpoint
passes that helped to keep China on the attack.
Sun also blocked a free kick by Alberta Sackey from just outside
the box in the 57th minute, one of Ghana's few scoring
opportunities. The ball struck Sun in the face, and she fell to the
turf and lay there motionless for a moment before springing up and
chasing the play downfield.
Her goal finished a well-executed sequence. Bai Jie took a
throw-in just on the left side just outside the box, whirled
quickly toward the goal line and sent a high pass toward the far
post. As goalkeeper Memunatu Sulemana jumped, the ball sailed just
beyond her reach and Sun -- in perfect position -- leaped and knocked
the ball into the goal.
It was her 106th career goal.
Wen had a tournament-leading seven goals in the 1999 World Cup,
but the Chinese were left looking for their first world title when
the Americans defeated them 5-4 on penalty kicks in the
championship game at the nearby Rose Bowl.
Ghana, ranked 53rd internationally, played determined defense
against China, which is ranked No. 4 and was heavily favored in the
Group D match. Ghana is led by Sackey and Elizabeth Baidu, both
NAIA All-Americans at Robert Morris College in Illinois.