There is no pressure on the US, French says


A FORMER national team player, and owner of a silver medal from the 2000 Women’s Olympic football tournament, Michelle French has an impressive CV.
Now at her second Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup as US coach, French has a track record of just one defeat in nine matches at this level.
With a semifinal match-up against North Korea  looming, the Stars and Stripes are just two wins away from a record fourth world title — the US won the 2002, 2008 and 2012 tournaments.
French said their match against North Korea would serve up a completely new challenge for her side. “They are another completely different team to what we have faced,” French said of coach Hwang Yongbong’s side, who are the only team to have won all their matches at the World Cup so far.
“They are really good defensively, really good in wide areas, lethal in set-plays.
“So we have a lot of areas we need to tighten up defensively, if we want to be successful. In attack, we want to be aggressive and get after their organised shape.”
French admitted North Korea’s rise in women’s football had been nothing short of amazing.
“We know the success they have had, and how much better they have got as a country,” she said.
“You look at the success with the U17s and he (Yongbong) has brought that to the U20 group, so we know it will be a really tough game.”
The 39-year-old said her team did not feel apprehensive about adding to America’s proud World Cup history of success.
“I don’t think so at all because this group hasn’t won anything,” French said.
“Those teams were completely different teams. What this age group has done in the past is extremely impressive, but this group of players still wants to put their own stamp on the game.”
Regarding her sides patchy form — they scored a late 2-1 win over Mexico in the quarterfinals — French was circumspect.
“We have faced a number of varying challenges based on playing against very different opponents,” the US coach said.
“So I would say pieces of our game have evolved, but we can definitely be better in certain areas.
“In the France match, we were back on our heels a little bit and could have been more aggressive.
“There have been things from each game we have tried to improve.
“In the Mexico game, we had moments of really good soccer, there were little bit of transition back and forth having to defend Mexico’s direct play,” she said. “There was never a lack of belief that we could come back and get the result. I’m happy with where we are at and where we are headed.”  –

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