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France women motivated to follow men as World Cup winners

The hosts kick off the Women’s World Cup against South Korea.

Gaetane Thiney, front, faces South Korea on Friday. (Richard Sellers/PA)
Gaetane Thiney, front, faces South Korea on Friday. (Richard Sellers/PA)

France midfielder Gaetane Thiney wants to emulate the men’s success at last year’s World Cup.

Les Bleus secured their second title in Russia when they beat Croatia 4-2 in the final last July.

Hosts France open the Women’s World Cup on Friday evening when they face South Korea at the Parc des Princes, with Thiney to use the men’s triumph as inspiration.

“Les Bleus winning the title in 2018 is a motivation for us, because we want to experience the same things as them,” Thiney told the FIFA website.

“We’ll need to be strong in our heads as well as our legs but above all we want to bring joy to the whole country and the people we love.

“It’s going to be rich in emotions and, above all, we’ll get to share it with the French people, which will be extraordinary.”

Goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, a five-time Champions League winner with Lyon, is determined to add international success to her glittering club career.

Only the USA, in 1999, have won a World Cup as hosts but Bouhaddi believes home advantage can help push them to glory.

“A World Cup at home is a dream,” said Bouhaddi, capped 140 times by her country.

“Just to be part of a World Cup is already a dream but now we have the chance to play in one on home soil, so it’s going to be extraordinary. I think it could even be magical.

“We’re going to have 30 or 40,000 people behind us who’ll be pushing us to win games.

“There will be difficult moments from time to time but I think the fans will help us overcome them. It’s a real bonus for us compared to the other nations.”

South Korea may be the underdogs but Chelsea midfielder Ji Soyun says they will raise their game against the hosts.

“France are one of the best teams in the world. They’re superior to us in terms of speed and physique, with technically outstanding players as well,” she told the FIFA website.

“The match will be a difficult one but at the same time playing against such opponents can help take us to a higher level.

“Besides, we’ve got the fighting spirit of Korean women and that will be our main strength.”

PA

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