CLAIREFONTAINE // France will have no excuses if they fail to beat the Faroe Islands in today's World Cup qualifier, even if the playing conditions are poor and the Faroes defend with 10 men, according to winger Florent Malouda. France, the World Cup winners in 1998, are in a tough position after a lacklustre start to their qualifying campaign saw coach Raymond Domenech's team take only four points from three matches.
France can expect windy conditions, a bumpy playing surface, and a team defending for a draw in Torshavn. "Those are excuses you make when you don't get a good result. There are no pretexts or excuses," Malouda said. "The French team can't be saying things like this, that the pitch wasn't right. "You have to be able to play in all conditions and, if you want to claim to be a great team, you have to win these games."
France have only 10 points from five games and trail Serbia by eight - even though the Serbs have played two games more. "Clearly things are hard for us. We can't think about Romania and Serbia unless we beat the Faroes," Malouda said at France's training camp. "We put ourselves in a difficult position were we now have to win every game." Les Bleus have to beat the Faroes to have a realistic chance of winning Group Seven and qualifying for next year's World Cup directly.
Domenech's team then have a crucial double-header next month against Romania and Serbia. Serbia have 18 points and next play against France in Belgrade on September 9 - a match that could decide which team qualifies directly. "The situation is difficult enough without us thinking too far ahead," said Malouda, who played for Chelsea in Sunday's Community Shield win against Manchester United. Malouda's sparkling club form at the end of last season earned him a recall to the French team in June after several months out following a dispute with Domenech.
Domenech was critical of Malouda's performances at the European Championship last year. But the pair have since had talks and their relationship has improved. * AP