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French Cup Still Empty

Group A: Defending champions on brink of elimination after 0-0 tie with Uruguay. France is scoreless in two games.

June 07, 2002|Grahame L. Jones

Defending champion France moved to the brink of World Cup elimination Thursday night when it could manage no better than a 0-0 tie with Uruguay in an ill-tempered and foul-ridden game in Pusan, South Korea.

The result means that Coach Roger Lemerre's team has to win its final first-round match, against Denmark in Inchon, South Korea, on Tuesday, or become the first reigning champion since Brazil in 1966 to be knocked out in the opening round.

Denmark, meanwhile, needs only a tie to clinch a place in the final 16.

Making matters worse for the French is the fact that forward Thierry Henry was red-carded against Uruguay and will be suspended for the next game. Also missing will be defender Emmanuel Petit, who picked up his second yellow card and also must sit out Tuesday's game.

Still to be decided is whether injured playmaker Zinedine Zidane, who has yet to play in this tournament, will be able to return in time to help out.

Lemerre, who wore a haunted look on the sideline as France once again struggled to rediscover its form in the absence of Zidane, remained positive, although not upbeat.

"We still have hope," he said. "We need a great match against Denmark, but it is possible."

It wasn't possible against Uruguay, which was intent on playing a hard, physical, oftentimes ugly game against the world champions as it too struggled to stay alive in the competition.

Uruguay needs to defeat Senegal in Suwon, South Korea, on Tuesday or it will be ousted from the tournament. The Africans need a tie to advance.

Thursday's game was the 20th of the World Cup but the first to end scoreless. It was not for want of chances, however, and only some agile goalkeeping by France's Fabien Barthez and Uruguay's Fabian Carini kept the scoresheet blank.

In a game that referee Felipe Ramos Rizo of Mexico failed to adequately control, fouls were frequent and often brutal. Studs-up challenges were the norm and left players from both sides writhing on the ground in pain.

The crowd of 38,289 was not amused by the tactics and booed both teams for their cynical approach.

Henry was ejected in the 26th minute for a rough, two-footed tackle on Marcelo Romero and France had to play the remainder of the match one man short.

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