FIFA World Cup 2010: France Team Return to Training Before Final South Africa Group A Encounter

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FIFA World Cup 2010: France Team Return to Training Before Final South Africa Group A Encounter
Finally some positive news coming out of the French camp: the players who boycotted practice earlier have decided to end the strike and return to training. Monday morning, the French fans who were eagerly waiting to see their team train, were delighted to see their idols return back to the training ground.
The players had jointly opposed the decision by the French Football Federation to send home the troublesome striker Nicolas Anelka. The Chelsea man was reported to have had some disputes with the manager. In their previous game against Mexico, when the half time whistle was blown, Anelka wanted to talk to the manager to get his point across, and reportedly used some abusive language. The incident somehow made its way to the press. FFF then acted and decided to punish the striker by sending him home ahead of their final group match on Tuesday. The players later said that they had discussed it amongst themselves, and Anelka was supposed to voice the opinions of the team and was not acting on his own. The players were upset about the fact that they were not consulted by the Federation before making the decision. Hence, they decided to boycott training. Captain Patrice Evra, though, made it clear that they still want to play for their country and this is just a gesture of solidarity with their teammate. The team reiterated that they are there to play for their country, and will do all they can to win in the final group match.
The squad started light running in the morning, at the training ground known as Field of Dreams Knysna, which was followed by some stretching.

The mood of the squad was quite good; the team, after physical training, gathered around the manager to get some tactical advice. Later, the players talked to the media for a period of 25 minutes.

Earlier the extent of the problems between the players and the Federation was so serious, that even the French President Nicolas Sarkozy had to intervene to try and resolve the situation.

Sarkozy, who himself is a big football fan, wanted to do all he could to make things better between the players and the board. Sarkozy personally asked the French Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot to spend some more time in South Africa and to go and meet the players, coach and FFF chief Jean-Pierre Escalettes herself, and get to the bottom of the problem to make sure it is resolved in time.

The FFF, meanwhile, has been firm on their stance. The people of France have been very disappointed with the decision to send Anelka back. The Federation apologized to the fans not on the sending home of Anelka, but on the team’s refusal to train.

The Federation said the squad’s decision not to train is totally unacceptable, and that the FFF will launch a formal inquiry into the whole matter once the team is back from South Africa.

That might actually be sooner than they think, as France drew their first match against Uruguay and later lost horribly to Mexico 2 goals to nil, which pretty much means they are as good as out of the tournament. If they once again do not manage to score in their final game, it will be a repeat of their nightmare World Cup campaign in 2002, when they were sent home from the first round without even scoring a single goal, while also suffering a shock defeat at the hands of un-fancied African team Senegal.

In their final group game against South Africa, first of all they have to win, and on top of that, try to do it convincingly, as goal difference may come in to play at the end of group games. On the other hand, they should pray that the match between Uruguay and Mexico does not end in a draw, which would mean both of them go through. But if preferably Mexico loses and France wins, they will be in a situation where they are level on points and goal difference may come into play. Who knows, if they manage to do that, they may yet have a future in the World Cup.

Having said all of that, all those are simply permutations, and realistically, they should be on their way home, but as the game of football continues to amaze us, we may yet be in for a big surprise.



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