PARIS - France will be hoping to put the
recent row over ethnic quotas in youth teams behind them as they
welcome the return of Eric Abidal for a Euro 2012 qualifier in
Belarus on Friday.
France coach Laurent Blanc, who was cleared by a twin
investigation into the discrimination issue last month, said he
would talk through the scandal with his players but was quick to
shift focus to the Belarus game.
"I haven't yet but I plan to (talk to the players). I don't
fear that moment," Blanc told reporters. "The match against
Belarus is more important than what I can feel about that."
France top Group D on 12 points from five matches, four
ahead of second-placed Belarus, and Blanc is hoping his players
would remain motivated despite ending the domestic league season
"We will have to make an effort. It is up to us, the staff,
to make them understand they have to do the job for nine more
days," he told reporters.
FAfter Belarus, rance will play two friendly internationals
against the Euro 2012 co-hosts on June 6 and 9, in Ukraine and
"We're not going to Eastern Europe on a tourism trip," Blanc
Players whose league season ended earlier took part in a
special programme conducted by French fitness coaches so they
would remain in shape for Friday's qualifier.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Bayern Munich
midfielder Franck Ribery were among those who received the
Blanc will have to make a decision on who will start the
Belarus game at left back now that Abidal has returned to
fitness after undergoing surgery in March to remove a liver
The Barcelona defender, who started last Saturday's
Champions League Final against Manchester United and was given
the honour of lifting the trophy after the side won 3-1, could
well start on Friday.
"I would not have thought that he would be back so soon,"
"Physically, I thought he was at a good level. This
(Champions League) game, the two or three he played before, and
the fact he is back with the France squad will give him a huge
"I hope he will be a driving force for the team."
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