French players may opt out of South Africa clash

BLOEMFONTEIN - Some of the France players may not want to face South Africa in their final World Cup Group A game on Tuesday following a row over the expulsion of striker Nicolas Anelka, beleaguered coach Raymond Domenech said.

Domenech told a news conference on Monday that he backed the French Football Federation (FFF)'s decision to expel Anelka after the player insulted him and attacked the "imbecility" of the squad for boycotting training on Sunday.

"It is a possibility" that some players may not want to play against the hosts in Bloemfontein, said Domenech, who has faced a rebellion from his players over the past 48 hours.

"We will have to take it into account when I compose the team with my staff," the 58-year-old told a packed news conference tent outside the Free State stadium.

One of the players missing from Domenech's starting lineup could be captain Patrice Evra, who did not attend the pre-match news conference that normally features both the coach and the skipper.

That could be an indication that Evra, who led the players' protest against the FFF's decision to kick Anelka out of the squad after he crudely insulted Domenech at half time of a 2-0 defeat by Mexico last week, might not play on Tuesday.

"The sanction was absolutely justified and I fully support the Federation's decision (to send Anelka home)," Domenech said on Monday.

"Nobody can allow himself to behave that way."


Domenech had harsh words to denounce the players' decision not to train: "It was an aberration, an imbecility, a stupidity with no name," he said.

The coach urged his players, facing scorn and derision from fans and media for bringing shame to their sport and country, to show pride against South Africa.

"The reputation of the France team is at stake in that next match," said Domenech, looking combative but not angry.

"The image we will leave behind much depends on what will happen tomorrow (Tuesday) on the pitch," he added.

France, who have frustrated their fans with uninspired performances since a Euro 2008 flop and needed a controversial playoff win over Ireland to win a ticket to South Africa, are in great danger of making another early exit.

Only if they score a big win against the hosts on Tuesday and Mexico and Uruguay do not draw at the same time will they stand a chance of reaching the knockout stages.

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