France squad wants to score cheers, not jeers

30th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 30, 2006 (AFP) - France will seek to give their notoriously fickle fans something to cheer about Wednesday as they step up preparations for the World Cup with a friendly against Denmark.

PARIS, May 30, 2006 (AFP) - France will seek to give their notoriously fickle fans something to cheer about Wednesday as they step up preparations for the World Cup with a friendly against Denmark.

The French were whistled and jeered repeatedly by their own supporters during a 1-0 victory over Mexico in Paris last weekend, angering senior members of the squad, most notably captain Zinedine Zidane.

The controversy followed a spectacular bust-up in the French training camp last week, when goalkeeper Gregory Coupet angrily stormed out of the team hotel before returning later after a row with coach Raymond Domenech.

Domenech, who has had a strained relationship with the French media during his two-year reign, has meanwhile voiced his annoyance at a television report depicting 'Les Bleus' as aloof and contemptuous of their own fans.

Yet if that all points to a tense atmosphere inside the France camp, several players have been at pains to emphasise that the opposite has been the case ahead of Wednesday's game in the northern French city of Lens.

Thierry Henry said he could not remember a happier French squad heading into a major tournament, pointing to the burgeoning relationship between the old guard and the younger members of the 23-man unit.

"This is a real life," Henry said. "There has been great bonding between the older guys and the younger guys. We take coffee together and joke a lot. It's great fun."

Henry, 28, who came within a whisker of guiding Arsenal to the Champions League this season before the team were beaten by Barcelona in Paris, said the fitness levels of the squad were encouraging.

"It's been nice to turn up here and not see anybody injured or carrying a knock for once," Henry said, acknowledging that the French had been unable to find a vintage performance against Mexico.

"It was not the best performance but we're not worried. Sometimes in a World Cup there are going to be matches where you don't play well — but the important thing is getting the result."

Henry admitted to being shocked by French fans' treatment of the national team against Mexico — and said they could learn a thing or two from English supporters.

"In England you would never have seen what he had to put up with on Saturday," said the Arsenal star.

"Straight after Arsenal lost the Champions League final I turned to applaud our fans and they were already clapping and cheering. They go home angry and upset but they still cheer the team."

Henry, who signed a new four-year deal with Arsenal last week that will keep him at Ashburton Grove until the end of his career, said he had been impressed by new arrival Franck Ribery.

"To look at him you'd think he has been in the squad for 20 years," said Henry. "I've been trying to make him feel at home and make him feel part of things and he is fine.

"When I first came into the squad I looked to the older guys to give me a bit of guidance and that's what I've been trying to do with some of our young players, especially Ribery."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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