France indulge in blame game

France indulge in blame game

They have not scored a goal in the finals since they won the trophy in 1998, having gone out in the first round in 2002.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 14, 2006, 11:48 PM IST
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Hamelin: Thierry Henry blamed French newcomer Franck Ribery for wasting France's best chance of ending their World Cup goal drought against Switzerland.

Striker Henry, who struggled during the 0-0 draw with the Swiss on Tuesday, hardly creating a chance, referred on Wednesday to an incident 37 minutes into the game in Stuttgart.

Ribery, starting a match for France for the first time, moved past Swiss defender Philippe Senderos down the right to feed Henry in the area but his pass was not accurate enough and meant the Arsenal forward needed to control the ball before shooting.

"Franck placed the ball behind me instead of placing it in front of me," Henry said at France's training camp.

"If he had placed it in front me I could have pushed it inside an empty goal without controlling it and that would have been a goal. That's how close we came to scoring."

The striker's shot towards goal hit Swiss defender's Patrick Mueller hand and the French fans shouted for a penalty but the referee ruled otherwise.

Henry said after the match that he felt France should have been awarded a penalty.

"I'm sure," he repeated on Wednesday. "It happened just in front of me and I saw it well."

France have not scored a goal in the finals since they won the trophy in 1998, having gone out in the first round in 2002 without scoring a goal.

Ribery, who had produced sparkling displays in his first three appearances for France, as a substitute in warm-up games, could not live up to high expectations against Switzerland.

"He is young and it was not easy for him," Henry said of Ribery's performance. "He brought us what he could and some of it was good."

Henry himself was a huge disappointment for the French fans, looking only a shadow of the player he is at Arsenal.

"I have no regrets," he said. "I kept trying to put myself in a position to score and there were no one-on-one situations. You have regrets when you miss those."

Henry blamed a slow, dry pitch for the game's lack of pace and admitted that he ran out of steam in the last 30 minutes of a match played under stifling heat early in the evening.

"Our next match will be played later and I hope they will water the pitch," he added, his mind already on France's second Group G game, against South Korea on Sunday in Leipzig.

Asked if he was afraid France might fail to survive a group also featuring Togo, Henry said: "No, I'm afraid to die but I'm never afraid of losing a football game."

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