Faustine Robert was in fine form on Wednesday, both on and off the park. During half-time of France’s final group match against Paraguay, she smiled and joked with the TV cameraman who was trailing her off the pitch and seemed to be bubbling over with joie de vivre.
“The cameraman was following me, and I wondered why,” the 20-year-old later explained to FIFA.com. “The assistant coaches found it pretty funny, so I thought I’d say a few words to my family and boyfriend back home.”
The reason for the camera's focus on Robert was, of course, that it was her two goals that had given her team a two-goal lead en route to a comfortable 3-0 win.
“I’m proud of my performance in that game,” the Guingamp forward said. “The first goal came from a penalty kick; in situations like that you’ve just got to be fearless and get the ball in. As for the second goal a short time later, I’m really happy with that.”
Indeed, Robert needed just seven minutes to score an eye-catching brace and guide France to the top of Group D. Les Bleuettes were the only team to finish the group stages with nine points, scoring 12 goals for the loss of just one to illustrate the strength of this French side.
“We can play even better,” Robert said confidently. “We’re not complaining though - we qualified for the quarter-finals. Although the three teams we played in our group weren’t among the tournament favourites, they had plenty of energy; they all wanted to play and win.”
The Europeans face challenging opponents Korea Republic in the next round, and Robert is well aware of the threat they pose. “I know the quarter-final will be much more difficult for us,” she said.
“We’ve got to be bold and full of energy. We know we won’t go any further in this tournament unless we’re fully committed and raise our game. We’ve really got to want to win this match and motivate ourselves. We’ve got to give it our all to get to the semi-final, otherwise…”
Giving everything should not be a problem for coach Gilles Eyquem’s side, who have presented a united front in Canada so far. “We played together at the European [U-19] Championship last summer with pretty much the same group of players. We know each other very well and fight for one another. That’s our biggest strength.”
Robert's hope is that this solidarity helps her realise her biggest dream of all: “To become a world champion.”
And if that happens, the attention of Canada 2014's cameramen and women is something she will need to become accustomed to.