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France out to prove its worth, show it can be contender in women's football at Olympics

08/02/2012 09:12 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT
GLASGOW, Scotland - France women's football coach Bruno Bini is just looking for some respect.

He feels his team is not getting the credit that it deserves despite playing well in the group stage and booking a spot in the Olympic quarterfinals against Sweden on Friday.

That playoff will be a rematch of the third-place game won by the Swedes in last year's World Cup.

Bini said that France's good results so far at the London Games make it a contender for a medal, even though most people are only paying attention to more traditional teams such as Japan, United States and Brazil.

"You can say what you want, but we are in the quarterfinals of this very important competition," Bini said. "We are just better and stronger than before, there is no doubt."

The coach believes the team's results and solid performances in the group stage are proof of France's strength.

The French opened with a 4-2 loss to two-time defending Olympic champion United States, then routed North Korea 5-0 and beat Colombia 1-0 in its final Group G match. It finished second in the group with six points, three behind the American team.

"After we beat North Korea 5-0 everyone downplayed the win and said that it was against a weak team but later we saw that they lost only 1-0 to the best team in the world. You have no idea of the difficulties at this level."

North Korea ended third in the group with three points, while Colombia was eliminated without a point.

France played well even in the loss against the United States, getting off to a two-goal lead early in the match before allowing the Americans to come back and earn the victory in Glasgow.

It outplayed North Korea from the start and dominated the match against Colombia too.

"We had a good pace the entire match, the only negative was that we couldn't convert on our chances," Bini said after Tuesday's match against the Colombians.

The coach was upset with the noon starting time for the match against Sweden on Friday in Glasgow. He said there was not much he could do to try to prepare the team by the time it arrives in Scotland and gets settled for the match.

"We will just focus on resting," he said.

It was still not clear if Bini would keep forward Elodie Thomis in the starting lineup after her winner against the Colombians. She got to start on Tuesday after coming off the bench and scoring a goal and setting up two others in the 5-0 win over North Korea.

France has the tournament's best attack so far with eight goals scored, tied with the United States.

The semifinal appearance in last year's World Cup in Germany marked one of France's greatest achievements in women's football so far. It lost the third-place match 2-1 to the Swedes. France had eliminated England on penalties in the quarterfinals before losing 3-1 to the United States in the semis.

This is the team's first appearance at the women's Olympic football tournament.

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Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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