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France coach Bruno Bini knows the margin between triumph and failure can be a fine one at the highest level, but he is confident his side can live up to their billing as dark horses for the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ title – starting against Iceland at Tampere Stadium on Monday.
Bini's charges stormed through the qualification phase with seven wins and just one defeat, yet the 54-year-old knows only too well that his side's solitary blemish came in a 1-0 defeat by Siggi Eyjólfsson's fellow Group B challengers. "We made mistakes in that game and we have since identified and corrected them," he said. "That showed because we beat them 2-1 in our second match in the qualifying section. It's true that Iceland were the only team to score against us, but it's not so important. They can score four against us tomorrow, as long as we score five.
"We have a good mix of youth and experience in the team right now and we want to have the best competition possible. All the teams are even because the ball is round for everyone, but you never know what can happen in football. The ball can go one centimetre inside and you're a hero. The ball goes one centimetre outside and you're a zero. All we know is that we have three high-level games and the girls can be very happy about that."
Both France and Iceland have a full complement of players fit for their opening encounter, but while Bini's side – who netted an impressive 31 goals in qualifying – are preparing to go on the offensive from the off, their opponents are set to adopt a much more cautious stance. The Frenchman's counterpart Eyjólfsson believes defensive solidity will be the key if his Iceland side, the country's first representatives at a major finals in men's or women's football, are to shock France once again.
Strength in unity
"Of course we intend to try for a repeat of the result in 2007, but it won't be that easy," Eyjólfsson said. "We know this is a totally different game and we will have to ensure we don't give away too many chances. If we can do that, then we know we can create at the other end. We don't build our strategy around individuals; we are a unit and that is where our strength lies. We'll work together from the start until the finish and, hopefully, we will be rewarded."
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