France face up to Euro disappointment

September 13, 2007

PARIS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - France know they cannot afford another slip-up if they are to qualify for Euro 2008 after defeat to Scotland in a qualifier on Wednesday left their chances hanging by a thread.

The 2006 World Cup finalists were playing their first qualifier at the Parc des Princes since 1993 when a last-minute Emil Kostadinov strike gave Bulgaria a 2-1 victory and cost Les Bleus a place at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

On Wednesday, James McFadden's second-half strike left France third in Group B with 19 points from nine games, a point behind Italy in second and two behind surprise group leaders Scotland.

Raymond Domenech's side travel to the Faroe Islands next before entertaining Lithuania and finish with a crunch clash with Ukraine on Nov. 21, a match that could make or break the French qualifying campaign for the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

'The last three matches will be decisive,' said Domenech.

One piece of good news for France is that group leaders Scotland host Italy on Oct. 17, meaning that at least one of them will fail to take full points.

'Our first half display was not the one of a team desperate to win,' Barcelona centre back Lilian Thuram told reporters after the match.

'It is a disaster, a very bad result. Whether we like it or not, it will be complicated to qualify.'

Les Bleus had not lost twice against the same team in a qualifying campaign since back-to-back defeats to Bulgaria before the 1994 World Cup.