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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
French fans feeling Blue
France supporters struggled to come to terms with defeat to Senegal
France fans were left stunned by defeat
Stuart Roach reporting from Seoul

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French fans smiled through the pain after seeing the world champions suffer one of the greatest shocks in World Cup history.

The reigning World and European champions were humbled by a Senegal side marking their World Cup debut in the opening game of the 2002 tournament.

With the African minnows made up entirely of French-based players, France's defeat was even harder to swallow.

Open Quote
I am happy for Senegal but not happy for France
Close Quote
France supporter Alain Albitz
True, the tournament favourites were without their playmaker, but the French had looked like coping without Zinedine Zidane.

As the fans made their way away from Seoul's World Cup stadium, the contrast was remarkable.

Waves of green, red and yellow bobbed to the sound of beating African drums.

But the colourful scene was laced with blue - at least, that's how the French fans felt.

Alain Albitz had travelled to Korea with two friends from Alsace on the Swiss/German border of France.

Failed mascot

The trio clutched a cockerel, the traditional mascot of French football, painted in the colours of their homeland.

But they must have felt like cooking the bird after seeing their side beaten.

"We couldn't bring our mascot with us, so we had to buy one here," moaned Alain.

"It's a Korean bird and is not lucky at all. We are seeing all three French games in Korea and then travelling to Japan, but by then I fear we will be tourists."

For David Arnaud, wearing a neck brace after suffering an accident shortly after arriving in Korea, the defeat added insult to injury.

"I feel very bad. Zinedine was not playing number 10 and nobody replaced him," he said.

Senegal's fans enjoyed their team's first ever World Cup encounter
Senegal were delighted with their team's win
"Senegal had nothing to lose and it makes it worse that we lost to them.

"They know a lot about French football and they are quite tough. I am happy for them but not happy for France."

Christel Cherre's painted face could not hide her disappointment, but she managed a smile when asked her emotions.

"How do you think we feel? We feel very bad.

"It's a very long time since we saw France lose, but I am also happy for them because Senegal play very well."

And as Senegal fans made their way to parties in the bar district of Itaewon, French fan Alain Collondon found himself engulfed in a sea of African song and dance on a Korean tube train.

But he too managed to put a brave face on defeat as he planned to join the African party.

"It's fiesta time," he said. "It was bad for us but pas de probleme because African football is wonderful, better maybe than South American."


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GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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