Sun, Nov 18, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Distracted France settle for a draw against Morocco

AFP , PARIS

France midfielder Jerome Rothen, right, vies with Morocco's Michael Basser during their friendly soccer match at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, France, on Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

France, probably sidetracked by the closing stages of Euro 2008, drew 2-2 with Morocco in a friendly at the Stade de France on Friday night.

Though hardly a classic performance by France, it can hardly be expected with their ticket to Austria and Switzerland next year on the line in the coming days.

Tarik Sektioui opened the scoring for Morocco in the eighth minute before Sidney Govou and Samir Nasri put the home side ahead. Youssef Moukhtari then pulled the game back to 2-2 with an equalizer six minutes before full time.

QUALIFICATION

French fans know that if Italy were to win in Scotland late yesterday, Raymond Domenech and his men will have qualified automatically. If that does not happen, France need at least a draw in Ukraine on Wednesday to go through.

Concentrating against Morocco must have been hard but the weather will be even colder in Kiev in five days time and Ukraine will be highly-motivated to beat the World Cup runners-up.

GOOD OPPONENTS

"Morocco were good opponents who forced us to play and made it difficult and that's what we are expecting on Wednesday. I would like to thank Henri [Michel, Morocco coach] and the Moroccan team because they did not make it at all easy for us," Domenech said. "That's what I wanted. In Ukraine on Wednesday we must also show our fighting spirit because the match is not already won. We have to go and play it."

"It was not a bad thing to draw against Morocco because there were 10 times more Moroccans in the stadium than French and Morocco played well. But the most important thing is Wednesday's match and with the pitch virtually frozen it will serve us well in similar conditions against Ukraine," French defender Francois Clerc said.

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