France has made it to the final eight of the last two Women’s World Cups, finishing fourth in 2011 and falling in the quarterfinals four years ago. With this year’s tournament kicking off Friday in Paris with the home team meeting South Korea, hopes are high for the team to finally break through and make the final.
On Thursday coach Corinne Diacre tried to deflect that pressure.
“Nothing tells me this is going to be the year for France. I don’t have anything that suggests we’re going to get further than the quarterfinals,” she said through a interpreter. “We want to do better but I don’t have a magic wand. I ordered it but it hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe it will come after the World Cup.”
Diacre isn’t the only one trying to tamp down expectations. The coach admitted the players have also tried to tune out the chatter, although she acknowledged there is additional focus on Friday’s opener since it comes less than 11 months after the French men won the World Cup in Russia.
“We have the expectations of others,” she said of her team, ranked fourth in the world. “We’ve got the [French football association]. We’ve got different stakeholders. We’ve got the French republic. The president of the French republic.
“But that’s not my problem tomorrow. We have other fish to fry. We need to think about winning games and winning the World Cup.”
The Yanks are coming
The defending champion U.S. team is scheduled to arrive in France on Thursday following an 11-day training camp in England. The Americans will play their first game Tuesday, facing Thailand in Reims, about 80 miles northeast of Paris.
The U.S. is among the last of the 24 teams scheduled to arrive. Chile and Thailand are expected to land in France on Friday.
Cancer sidelines Canadian referee
Canadian referee Carol Anne Chenard has pulled out of the Women’s World Cup after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Chenard, 42, one of Canada’s most experienced soccer officials, worked the gold medal game at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“The news is very recent,” said FIFA senior refereeing manager Kari Seitz, a former MLS official. “Carol Anne is one of our top officials and she will be greatly missed.”
FIFA said the cancer was detected early and it is hopeful Chenard will resume her career soon. In France she was to head a crew that included assistant referee Kathryn Nesbitt of the U.S.
Chinese assistant referee Yongmei Cui also pulled out of the tournament on the advice of her doctors because of heart problems.
Neither referee will be replaced; there will be reassignments among the pool of officials in France.