France suffers strike to World Cup hopes

8th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

SAINT ETIENNE, France, June 8, 2006 (AFP) - France's World Cup hopes have suffered a cruel blow after striker Djibril Cissé broke his leg in their last warm-up game before leaving for Germany.

SAINT ETIENNE, France, June 8, 2006 (AFP) - France's World Cup hopes have suffered a cruel blow after striker Djibril Cissé broke his leg in their last warm-up game before leaving for Germany.

The Liverpool forward was forced out of Raymond Domenech's squad after undergoing surgery here late Wednesday on a fractured right fibula and shinbone picked up in the friendly against China.

Domenech acted quickly to call up Lyon forward Sidney Govou into his 23-man squad for the finals.

Watched by a crowd of 40,000 including French President Jacques Chirac, Cissé, France's top goalscorer in qualifying, was cut down by China captain Zheng Zhi in the 10th minute.

The 24-year-old, who was set to team up with Thierry Henry for France's opening Group G game against Switzerland in Stuttgart next Tuesday, was operated on at Saint-Etienne's CHU hospital.

"Djibril Cissé underwent surgery yesterday. The operation went well," the French Football Federation reported in a statement on Thursday.

"Raymond Domenech and Dr Paclet have been to see him to find out how he is getting on and to pass on to him the best wishes of the staff and French team.

"Jacques Chirac, the President of the Republic, has been kept informed on the player's condition," the statement went on.

The loss is a major setback for Les Bleus who suffered a similar fate preparing for their ill-fated 2002 World Cup campaign when Zinedine Zidane injured his left thigh in the last friendly against South Korea.

But while the Real Madrid star was to eventually play a minor role in the 1998 champions' failed defence in Asia, Cissé's World Cup is over before it began.

Domenech, who with the 22 players still standing flies out to France's World Cup headquarters south of Hannover later Thursday, has until Monday, the day before their 2006 campaign opens, to name a replacement.

The gravity of Cissé's injury was quickly evident from the concern shown by his teammates who rushed to his side when he fell to the ground.

William Gallas was seen telling Domenech "it's finished".

Cissé's replacement, David Trezeguet, went on to give France a 30th minute lead in the game which marked Zidane's last on home soil and the Juventus attacker is likely to be chosen to start in his place against the Swiss.

China levelled with a 69th minute penalty and appeared to be holding on for a draw as France failed to unlock a defiant Chinese defence.

But an own goal in the final minute and a long-range shot from Henry in extra time sealed a fortuitous 3-1 victory to complete the 1998 champions' warm up schedule.

One positive from the encounter though was the contribution made by the rising star of the French camp, 23-year-old Franck Ribéry.

Introduced as a second half substitute the Marseille player's darting runs up the midfield injected real urgency to the French attack and one of his charges was at the heart of their third goal.

Among those in the frame to be called up as Domenech's 23rd man are four players he's already discarded - Nicolas Anelka, Sidney Govou, Robert Pires and Barcelona's Champions League winner Ludovic Giuly.

Or he could take a gamble and select a member of France's Under 21 team.

For the hapless Cissé meanwhile Wednesday's injury excludes him from his second major competition after suspension forced him to miss the European Championships in Portugal in 2004.

It is the second time in successive championships that 26-year-old Govou, scorer of three goals in his 19 international appearances, has been a late call-up.

He joined the Euro 2004 squad when the then Monaco playmaker Ludovic Giuly, who was surprisingly overlooked for the squad this time around, pulled out when he failed to recover from an injury suffered in the Champions League final defeat by FC Porto.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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