Bianca Henninger is just one goalkeeper producing eye-catching performances at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. FIFA.com caught up with the USA player ahead of Sunday's quarter-final in Augsberg with Nigeria.
FIFA.com: Bianca, you’ve not conceded any goals since the first game against Ghana so you must be pleased with your own form?
Bianca Henninger: My form is ok, you can always do better. I just want to keep trying to improve every game.
Only ok? You had that marvellous save against Switzerland when you tipped a fierce shot onto the bar and then against Korea Republic you saved well from Ji So-Yun when she was through with a one-on-one.
Thank-you for saying it! With the Switzerland one I hadn’t really had much to do in the game except make that save so you try and stay concentrated so that when it’s time to do my part I’m ready to go. With Korea it was a similar thing. Everybody had been doing their job all game, I really hadn’t had that much action so I just felt it was my turn to do my part for my team.
Similarly, the Korea Republic goalkeeper played well in your last game and on the same day in Bielefeld, the Japan keeper made some important stops against England. It seems it’s been a good tournament for goalkeepers?
The South Korea player (Moon So-Ri) handled it well and stood in the way of Sydney Leroux who’s obviously a great striker. I also saw the Swedish goalkeeper make a good save in one of their games.
Is it a sign that standards are improving? It’s a regular criticism that it is the goalkeeping that is the weak part of women’s football.
I think the criticism is fair but we are making strides and you can see that in this tournament. And obviously at the senior level, goalkeepers all around the world are making strides to keep their teams in it when the games are close.
The US senior goalkeeper, Hope Solo, is regarded by many as the best shot-stopper in the women’s game. Do you talk to her about goalkeeping and are there things you can learn from her?
I’ve never spoken to her but Hope is very good at what she does. Every time I watch her she always plays well.
The US team did not start off all that impressively in the tournament but since then do you think there’s been steady improvement?
We didn’t perform at our absolute best against Ghana in the first game (a 1-1 draw) but we have been improving. Against the Swiss we did well to score so many goals (5-0) and then against South Korea we did well to come away with a win and win the group. It shows we keep making steps in the right direction.
Finally, you are gearing up now for Sunday’s quarter-final with Nigeria in Augsburg. How much do you know of their team?
I only know that it’s going to be a battle of a game. Now that we are into the knockout stages it’s sure to be a hard-fought game for the 90 minutes.