France in Confed final; grieves for Foe

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> France's woes following its World Cup debacle paled into insignificance following the death of Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe on Thursday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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All France's trials and tribulations following its World Cup debacle paled into insignificance following the death of Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe on Thursday. France advanced to the Confederations Cup final by beating Turkey 3-2, just hours after Foe collapsed in Thursday's other semifinal, where Cameroon beat Colombia 1-0. Some players managed to hide their grief, others sobbed openly. Mysterious death With no one around him, the 28-year-old midfielder sank through his knees and fell down, head forward inside the midfield circle in the 71st minute of the game. Emergency staff rushed onto the pitch to help and had to make sure Foe, who was lapsing into unconsciousness with his eyes rolling, did not swallow his tongue. Foe tried to sit up but collapsed again. The 28-year old was carried off on a stretcher to the sideline where he received further treatment, including mouth to mouth resuscitation and extra oxygen for 45 minutes. The midfielder, however, never recovered. FIFA's medical officer Alfred Mueller said the cause of death was "not absolutely clear. We prefer to wait for an autopsy." Friends grieve France's Coach Jacques Santini knew Foe well. So did Les Bleus' goalkeeper Gregory Coupet and striker Sidney Govou. They laughed and joked with the immensely popular Foe when the trio played at Lyon between 2000 and 2002 – when Santini was at the helm of the French club. "There was a lot of emotion, particularly in the Lyon minigroup," Santini said afterward, fighting hard to contain his own feelings. The question is no longer whether France has the stomach for a big match fight – the win over Turkey proved that – but more whether Santini and his players can overcome their sadness in Sunday's final against Cameroon. The role of lifting the team for Sunday's Stade de France final will fall to captain Marcel Desailly. An unenviable task in a distinguished career. "Everyone on our team has either played with him at some points or played a match against him," Chelsea defender Desailly said. "You see what happened and you don't want to play. It's only sports. He lost his life." Although FIFA President Sepp Blatter says Sunday's final will be played, the player's minds could be elsewhere – with Foe's family and with Cameroon's players which France now has to face in a match some would rather not play.

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