Preview: Togo v France

The French have played a big part in Togolese history, and the two teams meet for the first time in Cologne in what may be a historic match in Group G of Germany 2006.

    Emmanuel Adebayor hoping to get a win against France

    In 1914 Togoland was occupied by French and British forces, and was split into British Togoland and French Togoland in 1918 after the end of World War I.

    With both colonies looking to reunify or to gain independence, British Togoland voted to be incorporated into Ghana in 1956, who were themselves on the brink of independence, leaving French Togoland to go it alone.

    The French-administered UN trusteeship expired in April 1960, after which French Togoland declared its independence and became the Togolese Republic.

    Fast-forward 46 years, and France meet their former colony Togo in the German city of Cologne, taken from the Latin Colonia meaning 'colony'.

    Positive showing

    World Cup Finals debutants Togo are already out of contention after two matches having lost to South Korea and Switzerland, but can take their former colonial ruler down with them with a win or a draw on Friday.

    "We hope to play with pride and give a performance that will show our football in a positive way," Togolese goal keeper Kossi Agassa said, referring to his team’s shocking off-field dramas during the tournament.

    The African team’s much publicised pay disputes seem to be finally behind them after FIFA stepped in to ensure the players would be paid their appearance money, and this will be of great relief to coach Otto Pfister and his men as they can now concentrate solely on football.

    The Sparrow Hawks will welcome back influential defender Jean-Paul Abalo from suspension, and will also look towards Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor, who proved to be a handful against the Swiss, for a big game.

    Must win match

    For France, the defending World Champions who were eliminated after three matches at Japan/Korea 2002 are again on the brink of an embarrassing first round exit.

    France must win against Togo, as even a draw would still see them finish behind joint leaders South Korea and Switzerland in a group that they were expected to win quite comfortably.

    In focus: Franck Ribery (c) flanked
    by Silvestre (l) and Zidane (r)

    To make matters worse for Les Bleus, they will be without captain and playmaking midfielder Zinedine Zidane, as well as defender Eric Abidal who are both out of the match due to suspension.

    Real Madrid player Zidane is likely to be replaced by Marseille's Franck Ribery, while defender Mikael Silvestre will come in for Olympique Lyon’s Abidal.

    Manchester United based Silvestre outlined what the loss of Zidane would mean to the team.

    "He is someone who animates the game, who is a creator. The system will be different without him and we know what we've got to do, score goals," Silvestre said

    "The best way to console him for missing out is to beat Togo and qualify."

    Togo will be looking for consolation of their own as they battle to take something away from their first World Cup Finals, and if they do it will be at the expense of a French team in absolute disarray.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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