"A pleasure to be in front of you to unveil the first plans and project ourselves on this World Cup". For Hervé Renard, appointed coach of the women's France team at the end of March, the first big day took place this Tuesday in the premises of the equipment manufacturer of Les Bleues, in a beautiful Parisian building close to the Champs-Élysées. The 54-year-old coach has unveiled a list of 26 players for the preparation of the Australian and New Zealand World Cups (July 20-August 20). A group composed to live together for long weeks.
Amandine Henry back, youth in power
The return of Amandine Henry, a midfielder with experience thanks to 93 selections in Blue, was the only real question on this list. She will be there, unsurprisingly, since Hervé Renard already wanted to call her at the beginning of April in the same way as the other "banished" of the Corinne Deacon era, Eugenie Le Sommer. "You knew my intentions," he explains. An injury prevented him from being at the first camp. But we accompanied her so that she was ready for this beginning of the preparation." Another important return: that of Kadidiatou Diani, star of the attack, currently in full physical preparation after his fracture of the right collarbone. "There will be no problem," says Hervé Renard.
The former coach of Saudi Arabia in the men has also rejuvenated his group with the presence of Naomie Feller (21 years, 3 caps), Vicki Becho (19 years 0 caps), Laurina Fazer (19 years, 2 caps) or Orianne Jean-François (21 years, 3 caps). The first two are part of the "novelties", not having been called up in April, just like Aïssatou Tounkara in defense, Solène Durand in goalkeeper and, therefore, Amandine Henry. "They are young girls who can bring their dynamism, versatility and enthusiasm. The goal is also regeneration," says Hervé Renard.
Baltimore and Hamraoui absent, three players will leave
Of the 26 called, 21 were already there in April. The leavers? Ouleymata Sarr (Paris FC), Melvine Malard, Delphine Cascarino (OL), Hawa Cissoko (West Ham), Magou Doucouré, Kessya Bussy (Reims) and Sandy Baltimore (PSG). Only choices with the exception of Cascarino, who suffered a cruciate ligament in her knee. For Baltimore, the penalty seems heavy but his season in Paris was more than average and his presence at the last meeting did not give satisfaction. "I've seen a lot of PSG games and other players seem more suited to be part of the list," admits Hervé Renard.
The coach of the Blues explained to have called "five players" this Tuesday morning to announce their absence from the group. Kheira Hamraoui is one of them. "I told him that the decision was sporting and that it was 100% mine," Renard explains. The conversations were short but we put ourselves in their shoes. It was my duty to assume." Just as he will assume the departure of three players before the start of the competition. There will be one less guardian (Chavas or Durand). For the rest, the choice will be made at the end of the preparation, from June 20 to July 7 in Europe before the departure for Oceania.
TV rights still a concern
Finally, the still pending issue of the broadcast of the World Cup on French soil occupied the space. "I think we will reach a consensus," says Hervé Renard. I am sure it will be broadcast. I trust the protagonists to make everything work out. We should have found this broadcaster long before but we hope that the coming week will be positive. We stay focused on preparation. We hope that French spectators can see this World Cup."
One thing is certain, despite the injuries and forfeits of Katoto, Mbock and Cascarino, "the objective has not evolved," recalls Hervé Renard. Namely a semi-final, at least. That the France could be missing if no agreement is reached between broadcasters and FIFA.
The pre-list of 26 players (23 will go to the World Cup)
Guardians (4): Mylène Chavas (free, ex-Bordeaux), Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (Juventus Turin/Ita), Constance Picaud (PSG), Solène Durand (Guingamp)
Defenders (8): Selma Bacha (Lyon), Estelle Cascarino (Manchester United/Eng), Elisa de Almeida (PSG), Sakina Karchaoui (PSG), Ève Périsset (Chelsea/Eng), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Maëlle Lakrar (Montpellier), Aïssatou Tounkara (Manchester United/Eng)
Environments (8): Kenza Dali (Aston Villa/Eng), Laurina Fazer (PSG), Grace Geyoro (PSG), Amandine Henry (Angel City/USA), Oriane Jean-François (PSG), Léa Le Garrec (Fleury), Amel Majri (Lyon), Sandie Toletti (Real Madrid/ESP)
Attackers (6): Vivane Asseyi (West Ham/Eng), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Eugénie Le Sommer (Lyon), Clara Mateo (Paris FC), Naomie Feller (Real Madrid); Vicki Becho (Lyon)