France set to unleash World Cup secret weapon

12th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

STUTTGART, June 12, 2006 (AFP) - France look set to turn to Marseille midfielder Frank Ribery to inject new ideas into their attack when they start their World Cup challenge against Switzerland on Tuesday.

STUTTGART, June 12, 2006 (AFP) - France look set to turn to Marseille midfielder Frank Ribery to inject new ideas into their attack when they start their World Cup challenge against Switzerland on Tuesday.

French newspaper L'Equipe reported that Ribery would replace the out-of-form David Trezeguet as coach Raymond Domenech rips up his tactics book.

Ribery, in just his fourth international appearance, would play alongside Zinedine Zidane and Sylvain Wiltord in a midfield designed to supply sole striker Thierry Henry as the 1998 winners seek to bury the nightmare of their 2002 campaign.

Ribery, 23, has risen to Domenech's attention only in the last few weeks after a series of scintillating performances for his club.

Midfield veteran Claude Makelele has been impressed by the young tyro.

"Frank is the sort of player who can bring a lot to a team in 15 or 20 minutes," Makelele said.

Ribery only made his debut as a substitute in France's friendly against Mexico late last month and received a standing ovation from the 80,000 Stade de France crowd.

The warmup game against China last week will be remembered for Djibril Cissé's broken leg, but Ribery came off the bench to give the French attack new urgency and helped them to a 3-1 win.

Ribery, who has a long scar down his face, caused by a childhood car crash, enjoys strong support back home - a French newspaper poll found 66 percent of fans believed he should play against the physical Swiss.

Lyon defender Eric Abidal said the man he describes as "my friend, like family" gives a new dimension to an ageing lineup.

"Each time he's played he's brought freshness, vivacity and technique to the team.

"He creates chances. I think it's great for the team, he pushes the side forward regardless of how many minutes he's on the pitch."

Domenech - who raised eyebrows by opting for Ribery and leaving the more experienced Ludovic Giuly and Johan Micoud out of the squad - has said he wants to exploit the Marseille man's carefree attitude.

"He's someone who is happy to be around, who knows he might play for 10 minutes, quarter of an hour, or not at all but knows he must be ready all the time and never kicks up a fuss," said the coach.

Ribery, born in the Channel port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, is a colourful character who played briefly for Galatasaray in Turkey and converted to Islam after marrying a French woman of Algerian descent.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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