French papers comment on the France-Senegal clash

Paris- France (PANA) -- The match pitching France against Senegal to mark the kick-off of the World Cup 2002 finals starting 31 May in Japan and South Korea has aroused enthusiastic comments in street conversations and the press in Paris.
In the Web sites of the French Football Association and the National League, the France-Senegal match is referred to as a clash between the French national team and its reserve team.
As a matter of fact, numerous Senegalese nationals play in the different French football championship clubs, not to mention the head coach who is a typical product of French football.
"The French players will have to come up with the best of their abilities from the opening match when taking on the Senegalese team, led by Bruno Metsu, and mostly composed of professionals playing in France", the Web sites read.
French coach Roger Lemerre admits in the sport paper L'Equipe, "that opening matches are always tough for defending champions, basically when facing a neophyte led by a French football specialist.
Anything can happen", he warned.
In the same vein, Zinedine Zidane, the metronome of the French team said, "the first match with Senegal might be a tough game, in so far as Senegal, like all the African football teams, plays a very tough football.
" "Most of the Senegalese play in France and they will definitely be intent on showing the whole world their capability.
We will just have to take up that challenge," he said.
Michel Platini, the ex-skipper of the French team, joins the chorus, saying, "We will suffer when taking on Senegal.
That first game might take its toll on the players for the rest of the competition".
He reiterates that "the surprise might definitely come from Senegal because the Senegalese Lions might be very intent on following the example of their Cameroonian counterparts who unexpectedly beat Argentina in 1990".
Even though the French press did not echo statements of Senegal's players, L'Equipe highlighted the enthusiastic reaction of Bruno Metsu, who said: "It's a great and exceptional honour.
Our dream continues.
We can even not realise that we will take on the defending champion before billions of viewers".
"My protégés have just been dreaming about a friendly match with France at Stade de France, but they were absolutely not expecting such a reward.
Anything can happen in that pool, we will totally seize the opportunity offered us," he added.
Almost all dailies in France dubbed the match "a joyful event" for the two countries.
Le Figaro says "it's an opening match between two French-speaking teams, and especially considered as a real feast with Senegalese players who are well accustomed to French stadiums.
Focussing on that festive aspect of the match, Liberation pointed out that "the World Cup 2002 will be opened by two teams of the same family.
It's about a match between France and a team practically made up of players of the French championship".
Le Monde did not disregard that festive aspect by expressing joy over "the fantastic opportunity for two countries with a great love for football to cross swords".
Passengers in buses, subways and squares like Chatelet Les Halles or Chateau Rouge market commented that Senegalese players are all dreaming of a big feat.
Most of the people interviewed forecast a 2-0 victory for the 'Gainde' (Lion in Wolof).
But some young French fans that are knowledgeable about African football said before thinking about beating Zidane and his teammates, the Lions should first think about winning the forthcoming African Cup of Nations.

03 december 2001 20:12:00

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