I just watched one of the most nerve-wracking, tense games of my life. Continuing in my football mania, I’d decided to watch the two U-20 Women’s World Cup quarter-final matches on tonight live from Canada. The first was Nigeria vs New Zealand, and my heart nearly burst, it was swelling so much with my pride for girls as we dominated and rocked at 4-1 by the final whistle. The other game, France vs South Korea, was vastly different. The French were my favorites to win this match with their attacking prowess as presented in their previous – group stage – games (5-1 Costa-Rica, 4-0 Paraguay, and 3-0 New Zealand). I excitedly sat down to watch the match, quite late actually, just before half-time.
First of all, I was surprised to see that the scoreline was 0-0. Half-time came wit a goalless draw. In the 2nd half I was confident that my French side, who I am fondly dubbing Les Bleus Filles after their male counterparts, would the back of the net more than once. That would not be the case. I have to give the South Koreans credit, though, for their super tight and organized defense. However, it was frustrating to watch my Bleus Filles get so frustrated. Time wore on and on, as the French time and time again got their charges to goal foiled over and over and over again. At a point, the South Koreans actually got a penalty, which, thankfully, my French hero, goalkeeper Durand saved. To have the French lose like that would have been devastating.
That penalty shot would be the only shot at goal of just two shots at goal in the whole game that would be on target for the South Koreans.
The French were largely and widely dominating the whole freaking game, yet they could never find the back of the net. It was actually anguish for me to watch, as they would literally get this close to score after a golden opportunity, and miss their chance. Their attacks were lovely. Such superb technique, skill, and class on the ball. Such delightful pace. Such fantastic crosses and passes into the box. But every single time, the French just couldn’t score like they usually prolifically do. At a point I was scared that there was some divine spiritual bind holding them back from their deserved win from the Pope visiting South Korea or something, and I started praying seriously to just let the deserved French side scoring their winning goal. I DID NOT want to have to go through an excruciating penalty shoot-out.
The French did score an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS GOAL, in the actual last minute of full time, but it was ruled out for being offside. It was heartbreaking.
The match went into extra-time with wide-spread, loud support for the French side throughout the stadium. The French simply dominated that extra-time and kept me at the edge of my seat. Still, no goals. Towards the end of extra-time, an awesome chant of “Allez Les Bleus! Allez Les Bleus! Allez Les Bleus!” rang out from the stands.
It went into penalties. I emphatically prayed to God give France their deserved win. I love their play, I love their language, which I’ve been studying at school, I love their country, which I got the fortune of visiting this year, and I love their people that I met on my trip. The first shot by South Korea was an atrocious miss, flying way over the crossbar. The crowd roared. The first shot by France went in. A deafening roar surged from the crowd. The second shot by South Korea went in. The second shot by France hit the crossbar. Tension, tension. The third shot by South Korea went in. I was almost hyperventilating at France being behind 2-1 at that moment. The third shot by France went in, thankfully. The fourth shot by South Korea was another awful miss over the crossbar. I dared to hope. The fourth shot by France went in. South Korea just had to miss again for France to go through. The fifth shot by South Korea went in. It was so, so intense. The fifth penalty shooter for France, Lavogez, needed her shot to go in for France to instantly go through to the semi-finals! It happened.
I literally just collapsed to the floor at that moment in relief, then immediately scrambled up to watch Les Bleus Filles celebrate their much deserved win. It was so heartwarming to watch them all collapse on top of Lavogez, their hero. They were so elated at winning, and my head was right up there in the clouds with them! They had their own little dance to celebrate, which was SO CUTE! It reminded me of Colombia’s in the (men’s senior) World Cup. I was, like “Go, girls! Rock it like the men do!” They totally relished the win, waving to their fans, running and jumping together, and signing autographs. Lavogez signed the most, and even stayed back to sign more for her adoring fans at the edge of the stands. It was so touching to see her taking the time out to relish in her win by signing as many autographs as she could, on tickets and KIA (sponsors) napkins.
Merci beaucoup, Les Bleus Filles! Vous etes tres, tres, tres magnifique!!!