Do-or-die encounter in group C as New Zealand face France


THE final group C match between France and New Zealand today is a do-or-die encounter for both teams’ hopes of making it to the knockout stages of the Under-20 World Cup.
New Zealand are currently in second place despite their 3-1 loss to group leaders USA in their second match.
The Kiwis hold the advantage after claiming three points in their 1-0 defeat of Ghana in their first game, while the French are in third spot on two points following two draws in their previous games.
A win for either side would assure them of a place in the knockout stages.
They will also be keeping an eye on the result of the USA-Ghana match at the Sir John Guise Stadium.
Buoyed by their competitive match against the USA, NZ coach Leon Birnie said the team had shown great improvement in the tournament.
“In the past, leading up to this tournament, when we got to the 70-minute mark, we would start losing our mental focus and give away easy goals,” Birnie said. “The girls have to hang in there for longer periods of time, be brave and relaxed with the ball, along with improving our consistency in front of goal.”
The Kiwis will have to be extra vigilant against a French team who have a lot of attacking options in forwards Delphine Cascarino, Clara Mateo and defender Sakina Karchaoui. French coach Gilles Eyquem said playing the Oceania champions would not be easy. “It won’t be easy to play against New Zealand, as they’re a solid team. They’re not better than us technically but they have big hearts and won’t be easy to beat,” Eyquem said.
New Zealand also have a genuine match winner in the team in forward Paige Satchell as her pace and ball control will cause the French problems on the flanks.

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