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Ronaldo fan is new French star
by Paul Kennedy, June 30th, 2011 12:38AM

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[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT] The hottest striker at the Women's World Cup isn't Brazilian Marta (held scoreless Wednesday by 16-year-old Aussie Caitlin Foord), German Birgit Prinz (battling an ankle injury) or American Abby Wambach (happy in her new role of provider) but 23-year-old Frenchwoman Marie-Laure Delie. She has 12 goals in her last six games for the Bleues, including the winner in their 1-0 victory over Nigeria. Delie leads France Thursday in their critical match against Canada.

Born to Ivorian parents, Delie is the great hope of French soccer to reach the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup for the first time.

Delie, who plays for Montpellier on a full-time contract, was until recently used in the role of a joker, coming off the bench for Coach Bruno Bini, but she got the start for France's final warmup against Belgium.

"If you're starting," Bini told her, "you'll need to score a hat trick."

Sure enough, Delie scored three goals and France won, 7-0.

Delie, who has 22 goals in 21 international matches, began playing soccer at the age of 5 and played no other sport. Her idol was Brazilian Ronaldo.

"I loved how he'd get the ball far from goal and dribble past everyone to the penalty area. I bought all his videos and spent hours watching his moves."

* * *

USA-NORTH KOREA RATING. The overnight rating for the USA-North Korea game was 0.9, up from 0.2 four years ago when the teams also met in their opening game at the Women's World Cup. The difference: pre-game coverage began from Germany at 11:30 a.m. ET. The 2007 U.S. opener began at 4:45 a.m. ET from China.



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