France midfielder Kenza Dali says Les Bleues are ready for the anticipated hostile reception in Brisbane on Saturday when they face off against Australia in their Women’s World Cup quarterfinal clash.
The Aston Villa playmaker said each time France have stepped out onto the park this tournament, it has felt like an away match — the perfect preparation for squaring off against the Matildas on home soil in a knockout World Cup fixture.
“The crowd is going to be against us,” Dali said. “I feel like this World Cup everywhere we played the crowd was against us and at the moment it’s good [preparation] for us, so it’s up to us to handle the pressure.”
The 32-year-old praised the Matildas and singled out Caitlin Foord who was instrumental in Australia’s win. Dali also cautioned about reading too much into the pre-tournament friendly encounter between the two sides where the Matildas defeated France 1-0.
“When we played this game, we were still in preparation, even Australia; it’s going to be a completely different game Saturday night,” she said.
“It [Australia] is a fantastic team and they play with a lot of freedom. They look like they really enjoyed it and they handled the pressure well.
“They played really good football as well and scored amazing goals. I think Caitlin Foord is the best player at the moment; she has been unbelievable and it’s going to be great.”
Dali is also expecting Sam Kerr to have an impact after the Chelsea attacker played her first minutes of the tournament on Monday when she was introduced off the bench in the 80th minute against Denmark.
Kerr played in the pre-World Cup friendly against Les Bleues but injury on the eve of Australia’s opening group match kept the Matildas’ skipper on the sidelines until the Round of 16.
“I think she’s a great player and I hope for her, she’s going to play,” Dali said. “It must have been really sad and frustrating for her to watch from the side.
“I do believe she’s prepared herself for us and she’s going to be there, I’m 100% sure.”
France coach Herve Renard echoed Dail’s comments, saying that his side understands the pressure that comes with being a host nation in a knockout game.
“We know exactly what we’re in for,” Renard told reporters. “The host country, we know that that can be a good or bad thing. This is what the French team went through in 2019. It can be hugely disappointing as it was for France when they were knocked out.
“We’re hoping to put Australia through exactly what France went through when they were the host country in 2019.”