France coach Corinne Diacre has revealed her squad for the women’s World Cup held on home soil this summer, omitting the French league’s top scorer Marie-Antoinette Katoto.
Diacre made the announcement live on France’s most popular news programme, just like Didier Deschamps ahead of the men’s World Cup last year, in the latest indicator of the growth of women’s football.
“It was a difficult choice,” Diacre said of her decision to drop the Paris Saint-Germain striker, suggesting she had placed the team’s interests first.
“Marie-Antoinette has huge potential. She is young and has plenty of time ahead of her,” she added.
The two had a fallout earlier this year over Katoto’s perceived lack of focus, with Diacre telling reporters the 20-year-old striker “will have to think hard about what she wants”.
The PSG starlet also pays for her lack of consistency this season, with poor showings in the Champions League overshadowing the 18 goals she scored in France’s top division.
There were few other surprises in Diacre’s choice of players, with Lyon stars Wendie Renard in defence, captain Amandine Henry in midfield and striker Eugénie Le Sommer all in the squad.
The French champions, who face Barcelona in the Champions League final later in May, form the backbone of Diacre’s squad with a further four players on her list.
While French clubs have emerged as dominant forces in Europe, the highly rated national team have so far failed to pick up any silverware and will be desperate to break their duck in front of a home crowd.
The hosts will face South Korea, Norway and Nigeria in the group stage, with a possible last-16 showdown with title holders USA lying in wait.
French organisers are hoping the tournament will showcase the women’s game at home and help meet a target of 200,000 licensed players at the grassroots level, up from just over 100,000 today.
Below is the list of 23 players called up for the World Cup, which runs through June 7-July 7. It includes three Montpellier players.
Goalkeepers: Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon), Solène Durand (Guingamp), Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (Arsenal)
Defenders: Julie Debever (Guingamp), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier), Amel Majri (Lyon), Griedge Mbock Bathy (Lyon), Eve Périsset (PSG), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Marion Torrent (Montpellier), Aïssatou Tounkara (Atlético Madrid).
Midfielders: Charlotte Bilbault (Paris FC), Elise Bussaglia (Dijon), Maeva Clemaron (FC Fleury), Grace Geyoro (PSG), Amandine Henry (Lyon), Gaëtane Thiney (Paris FC)
Attackers: Viviane Asseyi (Bordeaux), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Valérie Gauvin (Montpellier), Emelyne Laurent (Guingamp), Eugénie Le Sommer (Lyon)
Source: France 24