France were among the first across the line in qualifying for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ and captain Sandrine Soubeyrand is demanding just as much urgency to seal an opening-match victory.
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France were among the first nations across the line in qualifying for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ and Les Bleues captain Sandrine Soubeyrand is demanding just as much urgency to seal victory in a tricky opening Group B match against Iceland.
"When you start with a victory, it brings joy and happiness to the group of players," the 36-year-old midfielder explained. "It can create a really good squad dynamic and that can help later on." However, she knows very well that this match will not decide progress to the quarter-finals. "Back in 2005 [at the UEFA Women's European Championship in England], we started with a victory and it was not enough," she continued. "We had a win, one defeat and one draw, but it still was not enough."
The format of the competition was different then, though. There were just two groups and only the first two progressed to the semi-finals. This time around, with three groups before the quarter-finals, the two best third-ranked sides can qualify. "If we lose [against Iceland] nothing will be decided, but we'll probably have to win against Germany and Norway," France's most capped player added. "So, naturally, it's better to start with a victory."
One thing for sure sure is that they know their opponents very well. The sides met twice in qualifying, where Iceland became the only team to defeat France with a 1-0 home victory in June 2007, before losing narrowly 2-1 away in September the following year. "We know that we've been observed and we've observed as well but we're not going to reveal everything," continued the FCF Juvisy player. "They probably worked a lot since last year so we can't really plan any scenario. We don't know what can happen. Nothing is done yet."
France coach Bruno Bini seems to have formed a cocoon around his team, where the players focus more on their own game than their opponents'. "We know Iceland's weaknesses and we know ours," said Soubeyrand. "Obviously, we'll try to correct ours. We really focus a lot on ourselves." The captain, however, regrets the lack of support in her homeland. "We know that by playing women's football we are not in the media spotlight very often but there's nothing we can do. Taking part in the competition is already a huge success. The public interest at home will come with good results."