Bust-ups in French camp boost Bafana’s chances

2010-06-21 00:00

BAFANA Bafana’s hopes of reaching the World Cup second round may be exceptionally slim, but their chances of a morale-boosting victory over France tomorrow have been given a boost by the self-implosion of their final Group A opponents.

Simmering tensions within the French team, which have been threatening to boil over for months, culminated in a training ground bust-up between French defender Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne yesterday that resulted in the session being called off.

Reports are that the players halted the training session in protest at the sending home on Saturday of Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka.

Anelka reportedly insulted coach Raymond Domenech at half-time of France’s 2-0 defeat against Mexico in Polokwane on Thursday.

Yesterday’s bust-up led to the immediate resignation of French team director Jean-Louis Valentin.

The public session was about to begin when a furious row started at the centre of the pitch between Evra and Duverne. Domenech had to move in to separate the two.

“They don’t want to train, it’s a scandal,” Valentin said.

“It’s a scandal for French people, for the youngsters who came here to watch them train. I’m resigning, I’m leaving the federation. I have nothing more to do here. I’m going back to Paris.”

France have been a troubled team for months, aggravated by the controversy surrounding the team’s qualification when a Thierry Henry hand-ball led to their winning goal in their play-off against Ireland in November.

In April, the team was hit by a prostitution scandal surrounding midfielder Franck Ribery.

Coach Domenech is one of France’s most unpopular public figures.

Bafana play France at the Free State Stadium tomorrow afternoon (4 pm). To reach the second round, Bafana have to win by a margin of up to six goals, depending on the result between Uruguay and Mexico at the same time in Rustenburg.

Barring a near-miracle, this has left the match between France and Bafana an effective “dead rubber”.

Bafana, though, will want to lift themselves from their devastating 3-0 defeat to Uruguay in Pretoria on Wednesday, and give some reward to the fans who have amassed a wave of support for the national team in the last few months.

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