World Cup qualifying

Fernandez hails 'leader' Ribery

October 14, 2013
By ESPN staff

France star Franck Ribery has been hailed as the squad’s leader heading into the country’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Finland.

Former France international Luis Fernandez believes Ribery is the man to spearhead the squad’s last-ditch attempt to reach Brazil 2014 after the Bayern Munich attacker helped Les Bleus destroy Australia 6-0 in a recent friendly.

“Every great team has a leader. Ribery is it,” Fernandez told beIN Sport. “He even was the first defender on occasion!

"That’s what we want to see, France as a team. We wanted to see the team attack and press and put in a collective effort. This is what happened [against Australia]."

And the former Paris Saint-Germain player believes the France squad turned a corner in their big win against the Socceroos at the Parc des Princes.

“It was just a friendly match against a modest opponent, but what it says when you score six goals is that you took them by the throat," Fernandez added.

“Against Belarus, the French side were spectators. Maybe the fact that they finally thumped someone changed that. Because until now, this golden generation, this generation of talent had yielded nothing.

“We feel that there is potential in this team, and we have waited to see that potential at work.”

France, who have already secured a play-off spot, trail reigning world champions Spain by three points in Group I in European qualifying and will need a big win against Finland, and hope their Spain lose to Georgia, to claim an automatic spot for next year’s finals.

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