• ​Selma Bacha voted player of the match as France held by New Zealand
  • The latest achievement in her already successful career
  • Left-back Bacha is still only 17

Nil-nil is the least popular scoreline in football, the one the fans fear when they make their way to the stadium. And there were plenty of supporters at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes on Wednesday as Les Bleuettes played their second match at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018. Though they left somewhat frustrated as New Zealand held France to a goalless draw, they at least had the satisfaction of seeing Selma Bacha in full flow.

The Bleuettes left-back delivered a virtuoso performance, barely putting a foot wrong in defence and constantly striving to pose a threat in attack, twice going close with long-range strikes in the first half, on 24 and 34 minutes. So good was her display, in fact, that she was a logical choice as the “Dare To Shine” Player of the Match, though that came as rather small consolation for a player who was born to compete.

“I could have played better. I didn’t really influence the game that much. I didn’t contribute enough,” a slightly regretful Bacha told FIFA.com afterwards, before adding: “But I’m very hard on myself and I find it difficult to be happy about my performances, especially when the match ends in a goalless draw.”

It has to be said that the full-back has grown accustomed to winning. A French league champion with Lyon last season and a UEFA Women’s Champions League winner, having started the final against Wolfsburg, Bacha is hungry for more success. “I’m a French and European champion and all I need to be now is a world champion,” she added. “And I’m going to work towards that objective. We’ve got a good squad and we can go far.”

Fast track to the top
Given her all-round brilliance, maturity and impressive career record to date, you could be forgiven for thinking that Bacha is one of the senior figures in the Bleuettes dressing room. She is, however, one of the two youngest players in the group. “Players like Mylene Chavas and Marie-Antoinette Katoto are the leaders,” explained the flying left-back. “I follow the examples they set because they’re more experienced. I feel like a little kid who goes to see her big sisters when she needs advice.”

Yet age has rarely been an impediment for Bacha. Still only 17, she can represent her country at U-20 football for several years to come, let alone at senior level. And among the frustrated supporters in the stands in Vannes just happened to be Corinne Diacre, the coach of the full national team, whose presence did not go unnoticed by the defender: “Having her here obviously makes you want to do well, but the senior team is a long way off. Let’s think about this U-20 World Cup first, and then we’ll see if I can do enough to get a place in the senior team.”

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