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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Desailly: Age is against us
Desailly and Lemerre arrive in Seoul
Desailly and Lemerre arrive in Seoul

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France skipper Marcel Desailly fears his team may be too old to retain the World Cup.

The central defender was part of the side that became World Cup winners in 1998 and European champions in 2000.

Open Quote
We still have a lot of young players to come in so this is not the end of a circle
Close Quote
Marcel Desailly

But the 33-year-old is worried by the lack of fresh new faces in the team as the French aim to defend their world crown in Japan and Korea.

"Four years have passed since the last World Cup and it's nearly the same group - the players are getting older," he said.

"To win a World Cup you must have many elements, including chance. We know it will be difficult."

Although many of the side are heading towards the end of their international careers, the Chelsea defender believes the future is in good hands.

Desailly (front left) says the future is in safe hands
Desailly (front left) says the future is in safe hands

"For 40 per cent of the team it will be the last World Cup," he added. "But if we don't do it, it will not be the end of the world.

"We still have a lot of young players to come in so this is not the end of a circle."

Desailly brushed off claims his team might suffer for not having played competitive matches in the build-up to the World Cup - as champions they did not have to qualify.

"Because we are world and European champions, every team we play wants to win so badly," Desailly added.

"For example the game on Sunday (against South Korea) - you can't really say that was a friendly game. Korea gave it 100%.

"I don't think we've really played a friendly game in these last two years."

Made to pay

Desailly said the French still have a lot of work to do to regain the defensive solidity that was their trademark in 1998.

They lost at home to Belgium and then struggled past South Korea 3-2.

"Korea's second goal on Sunday was a bad mistake - a lack of concentration," he said.

"But in international football you make a small mistake and you pay.

"France is not the sort of team to give these goals away. But at least the fact that we won the game makes it easier to talk about how to correct these mistakes in future."


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