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WOMEN'S WORLD CUP

WORLD CUP

Colombia upset France at Women’s World Cup

Goals in either half from Lady Andrade and Catalina Usme lifted Colombia to an historic 2-0 Women's World Cup win against France on Saturday in the first major upset of the tournament.

Colombia upset France at Women's World Cup

Third-ranked France had been bidding to seal their last 16 berth along with champions Japan after a 1-0 win over England in their opener, but must now wait until their final game in a tight Group F.

Colombia, ranked 28, moved top of Group F with four points from two games, with France on three, as England and Mexico play later Saturday.

“This is an ambitious team, eager and willing to go after victory,” said Colombia coach Fabian Taborda.

“We're not here just to make up numbers, we're here to improve and win. These ladies are fighters and warriors.”

The French fell behind early when Andrade, 23, picked up a pass from Yoreli Rincon after 19 minutes to beat Sarah Bouhaddi in the France goal.

That strike visibly boosted Las Cafeteras' confidence, as French morale took a bashing.

And late in the game, with all the French team camped in the Colombian half pushing for an equaliser, second-half substitute Usme broke through to close out the victory three minutes into injury time.

“Disappointment is the only word for it,” said France coach Philippe Bergeroo.

“Today Colombia really deserved their victory. We knew they were very good, but when you come up against an enthusiastic team like that it's difficult.

“And then the morale took a knock when we conceded the first goal.”

It was a first World Cup win for the Colombians who drew 1-1 with Mexico in their opener.

“We came up against a super goalkeeper and lacked finesse in our technique,” said Bergeroo.

“At the end of the match we tried to go all out and we conceded the second goal.

“For me it's the team who lost the match today not any individual player. We missed enormous chances. We can only blame ourselves.”

Colombian goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda, who missed their opening game because of injury, pulled off a string of fine saves.

France striker Eugenie Le Sommer had Les Bleues' best chance minutes before the break, but Sepulveda held firm, as she also pulled off magnificent saves from Elise Bussaglia (46) and Claire Lavogez (90+1).

“It's a tremendous joy and gratifying to be part of this great moment,” said Sepulveda.

“We know how much we've trained to win this match. Our work has borne fruit.”

France almost got the equaliser with 20 minutes to go when Sepulveda handled the ball just outside of her area, but Camille Abily's tame effort went straight into the Colombian goalie's hands.

In desperation Bergeroo sent in his three substitutes in a bid to boost the front line.

Abily, Le Sommer, Lavogez, Jessica Houara and Amandine Henry all came close to earning a point, but Colombia's backline held firm.

Las Cafeteras kept the French at bay and their composure paid off when Usme's quick thinking paid off, with wild celebrations moments later at the final whistle.

“I think people think that Colombia come here just to compete,” said Andrade of her side who are competing in their second World Cup.

“We're very united as a group, it's very difficult for us to be defeated,” she warned.

“We'll continue surprising I'm sure. We've evolved in our mindset and are now thinking big.”

The result leaves it all to play for in Wednesday's final group games with France, fourth at the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympics, taking on Mexico and Colombia playing England.

The top two teams in each group advance to the knock-out round along with the four best third-place finishers.

FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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