Friday 11 November 2011 - 01:01 - Translated by Bastien
International break As the Rennes squad showed important signs of fatigue over the last few weeks, many players have gone to join their national teams. The concerns around their playing time will be a major question in the week to come.
After its run of seven games in three weeks, the Stade Rennais is tired. Unable to up the pace in the second half against Valenciennes, the Rouge et Noir squad has got a two weeks international break in front of itself to find some energy back before the sprint leading to the winter break. Unfortunately for Frédéric Antonetti, many of the internationals will only have limited rest time, since they have been called up with their respective national teams. Their playing time will therefore be a very important concern in the coming week, starting with Yann M’Vila, which the Rennes manager is hoping to see slightly rested by Laurent Blanc. Altogether, a dozen of players have left Brittany at the beginning of the week.
As soon as this Thursday, the French national teams were up and running. Gathered for a training camp in Clairefontaine since Monday, the U19 and the U18 are preparing their next games (and especially the Euro qualifiers for the former). The camp ended this Thursday with a match between the two generations (1993 and 1994) on one of the pitches of the National Centre for Football. An opportunity for Abdoulaye Doucouré, Dimitri Foulquier, Axel N’Gando (U19) and Tiémoué Bakayoko (U18) to prove they deserve their place in the selection. Abdoulaye Diallo then played a friendly with France U20 after a camp in Israel. This “Reserve” of the U21 has got two games to play against its local counterpart, the second being scheduled for Sunday in the same stadium of Ramat Gan. The young goalkeeper will probably be included in the starting XI for one of the two games, which will be the occasion for a wide squad review.
Meanwhile, Érick Mombaerts’ U21 team continues its qualifying campaign for the Euro 2013. After winning in Romania in their latest game (2-0), the Bleuets had to confirm against the same opposition, this time in Nantes. The victory managed this Thursday (3-0) is probably keeping Romania definitely out of the qualifying race, leaving them seven points behind, in a game possibly decisive for the qualification. Monday, a game at least as crucial will be played in Angers, since the U21 are this time hosts to Slovakia, who have perfectly started their qualifying campaign (three wins in three games). A second success this week for Chris Mavinga and Vincent Pajot would mean that the first place of the group (the only qualifying spot) would be well engaged.
Boukari aiming for the 2014 World Cup
Most of the other Rennais called-up with their national teams will play on Friday. But only one of them will compete in an official fixture. Indeed, the qualifications for the 2014 World Cup begin this week-end in Africa. On the first round, the twenty-two weakest African nations will compete for the right to qualify for the upcoming group phase. Amongst these countries is the Togo, who struggles to exist since the tragedy experienced before the 2010 African Cup of Nations . The “Sparrowhawks” will have to beat the Guinée-Bissau over two legs (Friday and Tuesday) before possibly joining a qualifying group including Cameroon and Libya. If they were to lose however, the Togolese team would already be out of the World Cup. For what could look like a new beginning, the Togolese federation is doing all it can to convince its star, striker Emmanuel Adebayor, to reconsider his decision not to play with his national team anymore. The Tottenham player is one of the players selected, just as Razak Boukari, about whom Stade Rennes hasn’t communicated.
The other national teams involved this Friday will play friendlies before the coming tournament finals. This is the case for France, who start their preparation for the Euro 2012 with two matches against the United States and Belgium at the Stade de France. For Yann M’Vila, who has become a key-player with his national team, the question is to know how much playing-time he will be given, considering his advanced state of fatigue.
More teams are preparing the African Cup of Nations, which is approaching very fast. To make things easier, many games will be played around Paris, making it easier for the French clubs. The Burkina Faso of Jonathan Pitroipa will therefore play two games in the Val-d’Oise, on Friday in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt against the Mali of Cheick Fantamady Diarra, then against Guinea on Tuesday in Saint-Gratien. In the same spirit, Senegal will also play against Guinea (on Friday in Mantes-la-Ville), before facing Ivory Coast, one of the favourites of the African Cup. This second game remains to be concerned however, since financial questions are threatening it. After being first scheduled in Saint-Gratien, some sources say it could finally be played in Saint-Étienne. Without Kader Mangane, out injured, Cheick N’Diaye will be the only Rennes players to join the Senegal « Lions ». Coming with a status of fourth goalkeeper, he will try and profit of this camp with his national to gain his place in the twenty-man squad for the ANC. He has already taken part in this competition in 2006 and 2008.
Hadji and Mandjeck opposed
In the same time however, three Rennais will fly to Africa. First, young forward Abdoulaye Sané, the best goal scorer of the Reserve in CFA 2, will join the U21 Senegal team to prepare the Olympic qualification tournament which will be played in December in Morocco. Before this, two friendlies are planned against Egypt in Alexandria, on Friday and Monday.
Finally, two members of the Rennes squad will be opposed in Morocco. In order to get ready for the African Cup of Nations, the Moroccan federation has organised a friendly tournament, the LG Cup in which Cameroon, Sudan, Uganda and the “Lion from Atlas” of Morocco will face each other. Each team will play two games on the pitch of the “Grand Stade” in Marrakech. The Morocco of Youssouf Hadji will therefore face Uganda on the Friday and then Cameroon on the Sunday. Considering the reduced rest time between the games, it is likely that the Rennes striker will only play one game. As for Cameroon, they don’t prepare the ACN since they have already been knocked out, but the future: with a new national coach (Frenchman Denis Lavagne), the goal will be to prepare the 2012 year in which the “Untamed Lions” will play the qualifications for the 2013 ACN and the 2014 World Cup. Before facing Morocco, it is Sudan – also qualified for the African Cup – who will face Cameroon on Friday. Back in the national squad, Georges Mandjeck could well start the game, especially since Lavagne is facing a cascade of injuries in defence (Assou-Ekotto, Chedjou, Bédimo, Nkoulou...).
Called-up with Norway, Alexander Tettey will only play one game, and he will wait until Saturday before playing it. Knocked out of the Euro qualifiers, the Scandinavian team is beginning a long run of friendly games which will only end in August 2012. As a starter the Norwegian team will travel to Wales, fourth of a difficult qualifications group (with England, Montenegro, Switzerland and Bulgaria). The game will be played at the Millenium Stadium of Cardiff in the afternoon.
Thursday, 10th November : France U19 - France U18 (friendly) at 11h00 in Clairefontaine Israel - France U20 (friendly) at 18h00 in Ramat Gan France U21 - Roumanie U21 (q. Euro 2013) at 20h45 in Nantes
Friday, 11th November : Egypt - Senegal Olympic (friendly) in Alexandria Guinea Bissau - Togo (q. WC 2014) at 16h00 in Bissau Senegal - Guinea (friendly) at 17h00 in Mantes-la-Ville Burkina Faso - Mali (friendly) at 17h00 in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt Cameroon - Sudan (friendly) at 18h30 in Marrakech (Morocco) France – United-States (friendly) at 21h00 in Saint-Denis Morocco - Uganda (friendly) at 21h30 in Marrakech
Saturday, 12th November : Wales - Norway (friendly) at 16h00 in Cardiff
Sunday, November 13th : Israel - France U20 (friendly) at 18h00 in Ramat Gan Morocco - Cameroon (friendly) at 19h45 in Marrakech
Monday, November 14th: Egypt - Senegal Olympic (friendly) in Alexandria France U21 – Slovakia U21 (q. Euro 2013) at 20h45 in Angers
Tuesday, 15th November : Togo - Guinea Bissau (q. CM 2014) at 15h30 in Lomé Algeria - Cameroon (friendly) at 18h00 in Alger Senegal – Ivory Coast (friendly) at 19h00 in Saint-Étienne (to be confirmed) Burkina Faso - Guinea (friendly) in Saint-Gratien France – Belgium (friendly) at 21h00 in Saint-Denis