Echouafni: 'This season could be magic'
Paris Saint-Germain Women's coach Olivier Echouafni spoke to PSG.fr and the D1 title race that reaches it's summit against Olympique Lyonnais this Sunday.
How are you approaching this Sunday's title-decider against Lyon?
"We are ready. We have been preparing ourselves for this challenge for ten months. Now we are here and we need to use our past experience against Lyon, whether it be the last league match or the Coupe de France that left an impression on the girls. They want to show what they are capable of. We could have qualified, but we didn't. We have a good season and it could be magic... we could make history with a win over Lyon."
What is the atmosphere like in the squad?
"The players know that they have a big match against the best team in the world, three-time defending Champions League winners and probably a fourth title on the way because I can't see anyone stopping them this season either, and they've won the last 12 French championships... Olympique Lyonnais are on top of the pile, but Paris are getting closer. I have a squad that have a great campaign and are looking forward to Saturday. We need to play free, without pressure... and the pressure is on them, not us. If we get a win, it won't be just historic, but earth-shattering! They have won the league for the last 12 years in a row."
What will be the perfect scenario for you on Saturday?
"The first criteria for deciding league position if we're level on points is the head to head record. So the first match ended 1-1. In terms of goal difference, we are second best. Even after their draw against Fleury, we need to win. Lyon won a lot of games 5-0, 6-0 and 7-0... we were more often 1-0, 2-0. It was very tough for us against Dijon, Fleury. But in the end, we have 53 points like Lyon."
How do you prepare for this type of match?
"Every little detail is important at this level. Everything is under the microscope, everything. We have to focus and concentrate on what we have to do. It might be decided by a set piece... a lapse in concentration... Every little detail could prove very costly. The girls have to be more than 100%, more than 200%... they need to give 400% for this match."
Marie-Antoinette Katoto is back from international duty with France A. How is she feeling?
"We have a big game to play this Saturday so I hoped she would play a little less. But she played three games with France A... But what a season she has had! 18 goals in the league, 27 in all competitions. It magnificent to have a seaosdn like that at just 20 years of age. I hope she's ready for Saturday. Marie-Antoinette is a young player and has to manage her efforts and form across an entire season, physically and mentally. It's not easy. She has to focus on what she has to do. She has the potential to play a huge match."
Kadidiatou Diani has been nominated for Player of the Year...
"Diani has had a great season. Her stats are great: 11 goals, 12 assists in the league, 2 goals in the Champions League... It's her best-ever season. But I think she still has a lot of room for improvement. She also owes her current success to the rest of the squad, to the team."