French flair


FRANCE take on Japan in tomorrow night’s semi-final and the USA face North Korea in the earlier fixture.
Gilles Eyquem’s side shattered German hopes of a title defence at the 2016 Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup with their clinical 1-0 win last Friday at the Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby.
It was an all-round effort from France, whose star players rose to the occassion and the highly-touted Delphine Cascarino did not let the fans down with a 16th-minute strike that left many in awe.
Germany’s Anna Gerhardt came close to scoring a screamer of her own, only to be denied in spectacular fashion.
The heroine, France’s goal-keeper Mylene Chavas, who used all of her agility to tip the German left-back’s drive from distance onto the crossbar, leaving Gerhardt, and the spectators watching at the SJGS, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Eyquem had laughingly brushed off a question in the lead-up about whether his side were like their French rugby union team known for its ability to beat anyone on their day — and lose to anyone. “The group phase is always difficult for any team.
“It was difficult for us,” Eyquem said.
Given that the French were largely unimpressive in the group stage, with draws with the US (0-0) and Ghana (2-2), followed by a quarterfinal qualifying 2-0 victory over New Zealand, coach Maren Meinert’s German side looked like a well-oiled machine set for another reaping. But that hardly came to pass as the French found form to leave the Deutschlanders searching for answers after the 16th minute.
Friday’s quarterfinal between Germany and France was the fifth time that the two nations have met at a U20 Women’s World Cup.
Only Germany and the US (seven) have played one another more often at the tournament.
If the French rose to the occassion, then the US managed a Houdini act in their unconvincing 2-1 win over Mexico.
In a sometimes scrappy affair coach Michelle French’s charges only came to life in the final quarter of the match after trailing 1-0 haflway through the second-half.
They take on North Korea, who will not be as forgiving.
Meanwhile, France face another mountain of their own to climb when they take on Asian contenders Japan.

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