Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 30th 2016 Contents A42
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 30, 2016
CLAIREFONTAINE---Like a theater
audience demanding to be entertained,
French football fans can be a fickle
lot.The team will be keen that tradition
doesn t re-emerge on Sunday when it
takes on Iceland in the quarterfinals of
the European Championship. Iceland,
after all, is extremely popular among
neutrals after its 2-1 victory over Eng-
land in the round of 16.
Les Bleus have often endured a frac-
tious relationship with their fans. Rela-
tions are better, but still precarious.
Last weekend in Lyon, the players
were jeered off at halftime against Ire-
land, when trailing 1-0. In the group
game against Albania in Marseille, the
vocal frustration was evident until
Antoine Griezmann s 90th-minute goal.
Any frayed nerves among the French
contingent at the Stade de France this
Sunday will surely contrast with those
of Iceland s devoted fans, who will be
shouting their traditional Viking chant
and cranking up the pressure on
France s players.
Ideally for France, a quick goal or
two would help settle nerves.
That France has failed to score in the
first half in this tournament may not
be just a coincidence. Players start
games nervously as if trying to avoid
mistakes. Chances are snatched at, the
body language is tense and cagey, the
fans rarely indulgent.
"I think we should be a bit more
supportive," France fan Ahmed Kchikech
told The Associated Press after a public
team training session yesterday. "We re
fed up with things only happening in
the second half ... French fans are like
this. We don t forgive (the players) the
Kchikech said he feels envious at the
way Ireland and Iceland supported their
teams at this tournament, with pro-
longed chants and heart-warming
"It s magnificent ... but that s not
the French way," he said.
Over the years, games have often
mapped out the same way at the
A flag-waving rendition of La Mar-
seillaise---the national anthem---followed
by some hearty early encouragement
and then a tense, watchful silence. If
France fails to impress, jeers and boos
ring out from the stands.
The French players have often spoken
about being upset during games when
the fans turn. Speaking after a 2-0
defeat to Argentina in 2009, left back
Patrice Evra berated France fans for
sarcastically supporting Argentina.
"All the matches we play in France
feel like they re away from home," Evra
There s little doubt that the French
side has not always helped itself---
notably at the 2010 World Cup in South
Africa when the players went on strike.
Things have improved, especially in
November 2013 when France overturned
a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ukraine
to win 3-0 at the Stade de France and
qualify for the World Cup.
RIO DE JANEIRO---Coach Rogerio
Micale named the Brazilian men s soc-
cer team for the Rio de Janeiro
Olympics yesterday, including two
key members who did not play in the
Copa America---Barcelona s Neymar
and Douglas Costa of Bayern Munich.
Micale took over the Olympic team
when Dunga was fired after Brazil was
knocked out of the Copa America.
Two of the young stars to watch will
be forwards Gabriel Jesus of Palmeiras
and Gabriel Barbosa of Santos, the for-
mer club of Neymar and Pele. Barbosa
is known as "Gabigol" and has already
played for Brazil s senior team.
Brazil has won five World Cup titles,
but the men s team has yet to win an
Olympic gold in soccer. Brazil lost the
final to Mexico four years ago in Lon-
Iceland's players celebrate with fans at the end of the Euro 2016 round of 16
soccer match between England and Iceland, at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice,
France, Monday. Iceland won 2-1. AP PHOTO
France keen to keep fans
on board against Iceland
Neymar, Costa lead Brazil Olympic team
Goalkeepers: Fernando Prass (Palmeira),
Uilson (Atletico Mineiro). Defenders:
Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Luan
(Vasco da Gama), Rodrigo Caio (Sao
Paulo), Zeca (Santos), William
(Internacional), Douglas Santos (Atletico
Mineiro). Midfielders: Felipe Anderson
(Lazio), Thiago Maia (Santos), Rodrigo
Dourado (Internacional), Fred (Shakhtar
Donetsk), Rafinha (Barcelona). Forwards:
Gabriel Barbosa (Santos), Neymar
(Barcelona), Douglas Costa (Bayern
Munich), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras), Luan
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