Zidane-less France must do or die in match againt Togo

22nd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

COLOGNE, June 22, 2006 (AFP) - Juventus striker David Trezeguet is set to get the call up to help France seal World Cup qualification from Group G against already eliminated Togo here on Friday.

COLOGNE, June 22, 2006 (AFP) - Juventus striker David Trezeguet is set to get the call up to help France seal World Cup qualification from Group G against already eliminated Togo here on Friday.

The 1998 champions, weakened by the absence of suspended captain Zinedine Zidane and Eric Abidal, need to beat Otto Pfister's African debutants by a margin of two goals here on Friday to ensure their passage to the last 16.

A one goal difference would leave them praying for an outright winner from the game between Switzerland and South Korea.

Anything less and Raymond Domenech's team will be heading back to Paris.

They take on the Togolese amid accusations of dodgy refereeing from Domenech and speculation of a fall-out between him and Zidane.

Fuel was added to the fire of a rift between the pair when Zidane marched stony-faced past him after being substituted in injury time in Sunday's 1-1 draw with the Koreans.

But the coach insisted their relationship was fine.

"It's pure speculation, it's been two years now that you've talked about that," he told a press conference.

"What do you want me to say? We talk together, we speak about the team, what's going on. Everyone does their job, he does his well.

"He (Zidane) is the link between the players and the team management.

"Do you want me to make something up in order to tell you the opposite? I can't tell you anymore."

Tackled on Zidane's evident anger at his 91st minute substitution in Leipzig the coach remarked: "Find me a player who'd be happy to leave the pitch with a game hanging like that.

"For me it's reassuring that he wasn't happy."

Zidane retires after these finals and he more than anyone will be hoping the throwing in disgust of his sweatband on the ground after his substitution won't be his last act in a French shirt.

Domenech's decision to team lone striker Thierry Henry up with Trezeguet may ensure a happier ending for the midfield maestro.

It's now or never for the duo, lying second and third in France's all time top scorer chart but whose free-scoring form for their clubs has been strangely missing for their country recently.

Before France's opener Trezeguet was critical of his coach's tactics.

"Domenech wants to have a well-balanced side, a side which controls the opposition. I agree with that but you also have to note that there are sides who attack who are well-organised as well.

"It's my opinion that we have to push forward, we've got all the attributes to do that.

"Brazil don't ask themselves any questions, they just do it."

Henry ended France's World Cup goal famine stretching back to their last World Cup win, the 3-0 triumph over Brazil in the '98 final, against South Korea.

And despite doom and gloom in the press back home, Domenech, who will use Manchester United's Mikael Silvestre to replace Abidal in defence, is upbeat.

"Our future depends on us beating Togo by two goals to go forward, that gives me hope, not pessimism. We're capable of scoring goals."

The French, who eked out a goalless draw in their opener against Switzerland, are the only top seeds yet to win.

Patrick Vieira, who had a goal disallowed in their last match, will take over the captain's armband from Zidane.

While France are missing their skipper Togo welcome back theirs after influential defender Jean-Paul Abalo was suspended for the Swiss game.

A tortuous row over unpaid bonuses has dogged Togo's first World Cup appearance and in the circumstances they produced a valiant display in their 2-0 loss to the Swiss on Monday, and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after their one world class player Emmanuel Adebayor was felled in the box.

The former French colony's keeper, Kossi Agassa, insists Togo won't be making up the numbers with his team anxious to put the damaging dispute over money behind them and leave Germany with their heads held high.

"We hope to play with pride and give a performance that will show our football in a positive way," Agassa said.

Pfister's intention to give some of his lesser lights who have yet to feature experience at this level will hardly be greeted by dismay in the French camp.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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