France, Argentina serious about game nobody wants
17 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - Argentina prepared for the World Cup third-place play-off by visiting Disneyland, but they and France, their opponents on Friday, insist that the game will be a serious affair.
17 October 2007
PARIS (AFP) - Argentina prepared for the World Cup third-place play-off by visiting Disneyland, but they and France, their opponents on Friday, insist that the game will be a serious affair.
However, it remains the consolation prize that nobody wants.
The two beaten semi-finalists have been shunted out to the creaking Parc des Princes in the west of Paris while the gleaming Stade de France, in the north, is dressed up for Saturday's final between South Africa and England.
It will be the last international for French coach Bernard Laporte before he leaves for a post in the government and he's marked the occasion by making nine changes to the team which featured in the 14-9 semi-final defeat to England.
"We are like a little team. I have got to know Nicolas Mas (two replacement appearances) and Yannick Nyanga (two starts in the pool stages)," said French forward Remy Martin of the players deemed virtually surplus to requirements at the World Cup.
Martin started the opening 17-12 defeat against Argentina five weeks ago and has made just one appearance, as a replacement, since.
"I wish I had a time-machine so we could replay the match with England. All those family sacrifices over the last two years, the extra training sessions, all for what?"
Winger Aurelien Rougerie was also exiled to the bench after that opening night defeat, was recalled for the pool win over Georgia but has kicked his heels since.
"I knew when we lost the semi-final to England in 2003, it's very tough to get motivated in the days after," said Rougerie.
"You think more about last weekend rather then the weekend coming."
David Skrela, who started at fly-half in the opening game and will be at centre on Friday, has had a particularly rough tournament.
His only appearance since was as replacmenent in the 64-7 pool win over Georgia almost three weeks ago.
"I would like the team to get revenge over Argentina and for myself also," said the Stade Francais player who admitted that not being a first choice wasn't easy to take.
"It's hard on the day of the team annoucement when you are not on the sheet," said Skrela.
"We are all together on the team bus. We take part in the team briefings, the video sessions. Despite all that, you do feel a little outside the group although you try and not let it bother you."
Pumas assistant coach Mario Barandiaran believes Argentina should play their strongest side even though skipper Agustin Pichot hinted that the fringe players should be given an opportunity.
"If you ask me, we have to play with our best players. We came here to win," said Barandiaran.
"The day we announced our squad we said there could be players who might not play any matches."
This will be the third time France have been forced into a bronze medal match; they beat England 19-6 in 1995 but lost to the All Blacks 40-13 four years ago.
Subject: French news