France not scaring Switzerland

7th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 7 (AFP) - France, who can qualify for the 2006 World Cup if they beat Switzerland in Berne on Saturday, are without first-choice strikers Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet.

PARIS, Oct 7 (AFP) - France, who can qualify for the 2006 World Cup if they beat Switzerland in Berne on Saturday, are without first-choice strikers Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet.

And Real Madrid playmaker Zinedine Zidane is less than fully fit after playing only half an hour in last Sunday's 4-0 win over Real Mallorca in the Spanish league after pulling a groin muscle in last month's 1-0 win in Ireland which put France in the driving seat after a lacklustre campaign.

Djibril Cisse, who spends most of his time on the Liverpool bench, and Lyon's Sylvain Wiltord, are expected to replace the injured Henry and Trezeguet.

Henry's superb strike against Ireland revived France's campaign and the Arsenal skipper will be sorely missed. The same is true of Trezeguet who scored his 102nd goal for Juventus last weekend.

France coach Raymond Domenech has also been forced to call up Bordeaux's uncapped 30-year-old Franck Jurietti as cover after Monaco defender Gael Givet cried off injured.

France are level on 16 points with Switzerland, but behind on goal difference, and finish the qualifying campaign against Cyprus.

Switzerland have to face Ireland in Dublin in their last match on Oct 12 and can qualify ahead of France if they beat the French and draw in Ireland or if they draw with France and then beat Ireland.

Domenech admits there is no point in looking for a draw in Switzerland.

"There's no point in beating about the bush. We are going to Switzerland to win to qualify. The injuries don't do us any favours but that's part and parcel of international football. We're confident we have enough quality in this side to do the job," he said.

That quality can bee seen in Patrick Vieira, who has found a new lease of life since moving from Arsenal to Juventus, and Claude Makelele whom Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho rates the best holding midfielder in Europe.

Domenech has to choose between Paris St Germain's Vikash Dhorasoo and Lyon's tireless Florent Malouda to play alongside Zidane.

He was expected to line up Newcastle's Jean-Alain Boumsong and Chelsea's William Gallas in the centre of his defence with Bayern Munich's Willy Sagnol and Juventus' Lilian Thuram on the flanks.

Switzerland's leading scorer Alexander Frei -- 22 goals in 38 matches -- admits France have the better players on paper.

"If they can't qualify with the likes of Zidane, Vieira and Makelele it's a disgrace," said the striker who plays for French side Rennes.

"But they're not unbeatable and we have a chance we intend to seize. We've got a young team but we have made a lot of progress through this campaign and we're confident."

Switzerland held France 0-0 in Paris before Zidane made his comeback to international football.

"He's a great player but we have no special plan to mark him out of the game," Frei said. "We've got enough belief in ourselves to take the game to France."

France, the 1998 World Cup winners and 2000 European champions, became the first defending champions to fail to score a goal in the 2002 World Cup and were knocked out of Euro 2004 in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Greece.

Their worst fear is they relive the 1993 disaster when they threw away a draw in their last qualifying game against Bulgaria, which would have qualified them for USA 94, when David Ginola's wayward cross failed to find Eric Cantona and Bulgaria charged upfield to snatch a last-minute winner.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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