Do or die: France must win big against Cyprus

10th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

BERNE, Oct 9 (AFP) - France host Cyprus in their final World Cup qualifier on Wednesday hoping their goal-shy attack can spur a goal-fest in the must-win game.

BERNE, Oct 9 (AFP) - France host Cyprus in their final World Cup qualifier on Wednesday hoping their goal-shy attack can spur a goal-fest in the must-win game.

With a faltering attack that has only notched up 10 goals in their nine games so far, France needs to get its strikeforce purring if it is to finish above current group leaders Israel and Switzerland.

French coach Raymond Domenech was blunt in his appraisal of the situation his team finds itself after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Berne.

"This point means that everything will be played for in the last match," he said. "We'll have to wait until Wednesday and fight. Against Cyprus, it's simple: we have to score. I think three goals more than the Swiss if the Swiss win in Ireland."

Veteran midfielder Zinedine Zidane said: "We still have our destiny in our own hands. We must win against Cyprus."

France defender Anthony Réveillère admitted that the team had had an eye on next year's World Cup in Germany going into the Swiss match.

"We're a little disappointed. We were thinking about qualification," he said.

Djibril Cissé, whose strike handed France the lead in the 52nd minute of the game, tried to put a positive spin on the draw and what will surely be a tough week ahead.

"There's a bit of disappointment but we also have hope and are raring to go for Wednesday," the Liverpool striker said.

"By scoring a goal, we took a big step, but a match is 90 minutes long and we cracked. We still have a great chance against Cyprus, who have been eliminated," said Cissé.

France, the 1998 World Cup winners who became the first defending champions to fail to score a goal in the 2002 World Cup, won 2-0 in Cyprus at the beginning of their current World Cup campaign.

Missing first choice strikers Thierry Henry and David Trézéguet, France struggled in the draw with Switzerland.

The result left France in third in European qualifying Group 4 behind Israel, who lie top but have completed all their games, and Switzerland, who are ahead with a plus-three goal difference.

The 1998 World Cup winners and 2000 European champions looked far from comfortable for large periods of the match which Switzerland, led admirably by top marksman Alexander Frei and captain Johann Vogel, played at a furious pace.

It took the muscular presence of Cissé to capitalise on a horrendous error in the Swiss central defence and score to break the deadlock.

But Switzerland's Ludovic Magnin struck back with 10 minutes to play, although his free-kick seemed to be deflected off French defender Lilian Thuram's head into the goal.

Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn poured lavish praise on his entertaining side: "This Swiss team was extraordinary and if a team deserved to win, it's Switzerland.

"Disappointed? Yes, a little, but with this point we're still in the running and it's still possible to finish first or second in the group (and qualify).

"The battle will now continue on Wednesday. Ireland must win to qualify and will be under pressure."

Meanwhile, no-hopers Cyprus have vowed to give it their best shot in Paris when they play France in a must-win final World Cup qualifier on Wednesday where the French might also need to score by a hatful of goals.

"If we play as I know we can, we have nothing to fear," Cyprus coach Angelos Anastassiades told reporters before departing for Paris on Monday.

"We are making good progress and I hope we will take another step forward on Wednesday," he added.

Almost 25 years ago to the day, France registered their biggest win against Cyprus, smashing seven past them in a World Cup qualifier in Limassol.

However, Cyprus will be looking to repeat one of their best results, a surprise 1-1 draw with France in Nicosia also in a World Cup qualifier in 1988.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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