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Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Pfister eager to end France's tournament

WANGEN, Germany, June 21 (Reuters) - Fearless Togo coach Otto Pfister said his team can bring down the curtain on a golden era for France when they meet the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 champions in Group G on Friday.

'The word fear does not exist in my vocabulary,' said the 68-year-old German, who left the squad after a pay row among his players before returning in time for their opening World Cup match against South Korea.

France need to win by two clear goals to guarantee a place in the last 16 but have not won a game in the finals since lifting the trophy by beating Brazil 3-0 in Paris in 1998.

'We know France have to win and they will attack us on the right, on the left, from everywhere they can,' said Pfister, who returns to his Cologne birthplace for Friday's game.

'But I think we have the abilities in this team to halt them and gain a good result.'

Pfister's confidence was backed by striker Emmanuel Adebayor, for whom the match has special significance following his spells with French clubs Metz and Monaco.

Now with Arsenal, he plays alongside France striker Thierry Henry.

'We are good friends,' said Adebayor. 'But I will be playing to win, for myself, for my team, my country and family.

'After all we have been through, now we want to take three points home for our children and our people.'

Adebayor said the squad had suffered because of the now-settled dispute over bonus payments.

'Of course it affected us,' he said. 'We were not able to prepare properly to a high level. We came here to the World Cup to play football but we were distracted.

'I am confident we can play well but it has to be seen now. We are all happy to have our coach and glad that he came back. It would be good if he stayed for the future but we have to see.'

Pfister said: 'I only left to promote a reaction from the officials. To wake them up. I knew I couldn't let the players down.'

Togo are already eliminated after losing to South Korea and Switzerland.




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