Sunday, 6 September 2009

Football : France stick to the plan


France have shrugged off criticism following their costly World Cup qualifying 1-1 draw against Romania and vowed to stick to their high risk strategy against Serbia on Wednesday night.
France were jeered by the 80,000 Stade de France crowd after a result that left them four points behind Group Seven leaders Serbia.
Only the group winners will qualify automatically, with the runners-up having the chance of entering a two-leg playoff.
Serbia will qualify for next year's finals in South Africa if they win in Belgrade while 2006 runners-up France would have to pin their hopes on trying to make the playoffs if they lose.
Missed opportunities
France, playing with three men up front in Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and Andre-Pierre Gignac, created chance after chance against Romania and could have been 3-0 up at halftime but for a string of super saves from goalkeeper Danut Coman.
Henry rattled the crossbar with a header in the first half, the best 45 minutes of football played by France for years, and had a headed goal disallowed for offside after the break.
Playmaker Yoann Gourcuff said France had done everything right and simply needed a bit of luck on their side next time.
"We must build on that because when we play like that, we're very good," he said.
"I don't really have explanations for the fact that we struggled to score.
"Maybe rashness, maybe bad luck. We have to continue in that direction, try to produce good football and at one stage, we'll be more lucky."
Yoann Gourcuff searches for answers during the match on Saturday [AFP]Taking risks
Defender Bacary Sagna shared Gourcuff's view.
"We took risks but were not rewarded," he said.
"We must do the same in Serbia.
"There are nine points still to play for and we want to take them all."
Unpopular since his side flopped at Euro 2008 with a group-stage exit, coach Raymond Domenech has done little since to win the fans' hearts back with a string of dismal performances.
At least his team tried on Saturday but they once again looked clumsy up front and nervous at the back, Julien Escude offering the visitors a share of the points with an own goal.
Domenech, who heard his name loudly booed by the fans before kickoff on Saturday, did not speak to reporters at France's base outside Paris on Sunday but his players were clear about what they needed to do in their next match.
"It will be a big fight but we'll go there to win," Gourcuff sa

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