Within six minutes of coming on as a substitute against Costa Rica, Marina Makanza had exactly the desired impact. Leaving two opposition defenders in her wake, she fired home to set the French on course for victory. Les Bleuettes eventually ran out 2-0 winners, with the pacey AS Saint-Etienne striker again finding the target late on to kick-start her nation's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2010 campaign.
It was about time, too. Following a less than convincing 1-1 opening draw with Colombia, the French were under increasing pressure to perform and looked a nervous proposition early on against Las Ticas. Makanza was one of eight starters from the first match left on the sidelines by coach Jean-Michel Degrange, and the ploy worked wonders as the explosive No7 sprang from the bench to remind her boss of her striking prowess.
A sigh of relief
There can be little doubt that the French have the potential to make a real name for themselves at Germany 2010, and as Makanza explained to FIFA.com, it was merely a case of the Bleuettes finding their own game. "We don't let ourselves get bogged down in what other teams are doing, we have our own style."
The young starlet's brace not only came as a major relief to the 19-year-old, it seemed to provide a release for the entire team, as they appeared a far more confident, focused unit after going in front. "Of course I'm happy about the victory and my two goals, but I didn't score them for me alone, they were for the team," said Makanza.
Improvement on 2008?
Back to winning ways, France currently lie second in Group A on four points, two behind hosts Germany and with every chance of reaching the knockout stages. "I think the win against Costa Rica was an important step towards the quarter-finals. We need to keep our focus though, because I'm sure that the final group match is going to prove decisive," said Degrange. Indeed, Tuesday's clash with hosts Germany in Augsburg is sure to provide the sternest of tests.
Degrange knows that his side requires just a single a point to secure their place in the last eight, and refused to rule out the possibility of playing for the draw: "Our primary goal is to survive the group stage." If they manage that, few would disagree that the Bleuettes are more than capable of improving on their fourth place finish in Chile two years ago, although according to the coach: "That's a tough ask."