FIFA U-20 Women's WC Chile 2008

FIFA U-20 Women's WC Chile 2008

FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2008

Le Sommer ready to make history

France's Eugenie Le Sommer celebrates after scoring
© Foto-net

Though shy and unassuming in interviews, Eugenie Le Sommer is certainly not short of character and courage once she crosses that white line. Indeed, the French midfielder has played a starring role in her country's historic progress thus far at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Chile 2008.

"Of course everybody always dreams of winning, but our first objective was to reach the quarter-finals, and to have gone even further is incredibly pleasing. Now we're aiming to win our semi-final too," she tells after a morning spent shopping and wandering around the city of Temuco, where France are due to face reigning champions Korea DPR on 4 December for a place in the final.

"We're not nervous about the match. We know they are one of the quickest teams in the competition but we can beat them. We must focus on playing our own game, concentrate fully and protect our backline," says the 19-year-old from the French town of Grasse, the centre of the country's perfume industry. "I'm very happy because we've got a good chance of making the final. From this point on, any team can win it, even the worst squad can do it if they have a good day."

This is only the third appearance at a world finals for a French women's national team. The senior side exited at the group stage of the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 while the U-20 team reached the last eight at Russia 2006, where they lost 2-1 to Thursday's opponents Korea DPR. "It's a historic achievement and a real honour for all of us," says the Zinedine Zidane fan on Les Bleuettes' unprecedented run to the semi-finals here at Chile 2008. "We're all happy because we didn't think we'd get this far. Now all we're thinking about is winning."

Taking chances
Coach Stephane Pilard is just as happy as his young charges, as the years of hard work are paying off in the form of a place in the last four of this year's elite event. "Before the tournament I told her that we'd win the final and that she'd finish as top scorer," says the French strategist of his star pupil. "Now you see the way people need to speak to their players. I'm totally thrilled because those wishes could become reality."

Le Sommer is well on the way to fulfilling her coach's expectations. And not only has she kept France ticking over in the centre of the park, the Stade Briochin player has been a revelation since being deployed in a second-striker role following an injury to No9 Marie-Laure Delie. In fact, Le Sommer has scored four of the Europeans' eight goals so far.

"Our toughest match was the one against Argentina because it was a game we needed to win and we had to come from a goal down," says the France No10, who started playing football at just five years of age. "To finally come away with the win and to score two goals was really satisfying."

Le Sommer also took the opportunity to warn against any possible complacency, as well as underlining the areas Les Bleuettes need to improve in order to avenge that quarter-final defeat from two years' ago in Russia. "We need to take more of the chances we create," she says as the interview draws to a close.

"We must work on improving our finishing and, above all, we must be totally focused from the start." But whatever happens on Thursday in Temuco, the France squad will know that their place in French women's football history is already assured.

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FIFA U20 WWC Chile 2008: Eugenie Le Sommer

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