x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Anelka: World Cup clash was inevitable

The striker says the tension inside France's camp was "explosive" and believes others were poised to confront Raymond Domenech, the coach, before he did.

Nicolas Anelka, right, says other players were poised to clash with Raymond Domenech as well.
Nicolas Anelka, right, says other players were poised to clash with Raymond Domenech as well.

Nicolas Anelka, the disgraced striker, described the tension inside France's World Cup camp as "explosive" and said he believes others were poised to confront Raymond Domenech, the coach, before he did. Anelka was sent home from South Africa for verbally abusing the coach and refusing to apologise.

The Chelsea striker told France Soir that "everybody stuck together" when the players decided to boycott a training session shortly before their World Cup ended in the group stage. Anelka, who recently signed a one-year contract extension with Chelsea that ties him to the English club until 2012, added that a clash would have happened even if he had not insulted Domenech. "If there were some players who wanted to train, they should speak now," Anelka said. "If I had not started it, it would have been somebody else. The situation was explosive."

Anelka was sent home after aiming an expletive-laced tirade at Domenech during half time of the 2-0 defeat to Mexico. The players' strike that followed was a protest against Anelka's exclusion from the squad. Lilian Thuram, the former France defender has called for some players, such as former captain Patrice Evra, never to play for the national team again because of their decision to strike. Jeremy Toulalan, the France midfielder, said last week that all the players decided to strike and that any punishment should be collective, prompting Anelka to praise the Lyon player. "Jeremy has a strong character," Anelka said. "You need some courage and a big mental strength to bear something like this."

Thierry Henry, meanwhile, is retiring from the French national team. The 32-year-old forward announced his decision during an interview yesterday at the offices of The Associated Press before a news conference to discuss his decision to sign with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. He said he will not try to emulate England's David Beckham and commute between the United States and Europe. Henry had 51 goals in 123 international appearances during a French career that began in 1997.

Also, Pitso Mosimane has been confirmed as South Africa's national team coach following a complex process carried out by the South African Football Association (Safa). The Bafana Bafana assistant coach was named as the successor to Carlos Alberto Parreira, the Brazilian, yesterday, exactly two weeks after Safa said Mosimane was the man it wanted but that he had to be approved by the body's own technical committee. Mosimane, 45, has been assistant coach since 2006.

Elsewhere, Matthias Sammer, the German Football Association's technical director, is confident that Joachim Loew, 50, will stay on as Germany coach. Loew's contract expired after the World Cup and he is set to meet with the German FA to discuss a new deal. Sergio Busquets, the Barcelona midfielder, said the Spaniards could be fighting a losing battle to lure Cesc Fabregas, the Arsenal captain, to Camp Nou before the start of the new season.

Although Fabregas made it clear that his heart was set on a transfer, Arsenal have no intention of selling their star player. In Italy, Marco Branca, Inter Milan's technical director, says the Italian club will not let Maicon and Mario Balotelli leave, despite interest from a number of European teams. Branca told reporters yesterday that, "These two players have never been on the market." * Agencies