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French Ready for Russians

26 September 2003
PA International

France coach Alain Jardel insists tournament favourites Russia will not intimidate his fast-improving outfit in Friday night’s quarter-final showdown.

"Russia are capable of the best as well as of the worst," Jardel said on Friday. “They are not invincible, everything is possible.”

After defeats to Serbia and Montenegro and the Czech Rebuplic, few would have been prepared to wager a bet on France even qualifying for the last eight.

Yet although the French cannot boast the depth of talent that won them crown two years ago, they showed great skill and spirit in their pool matches.

franceczec1.jpg
Audrey Sauret
On Friday night they face their toughest test against the Russians, who, nevertheless, proved inconsistent in the first phase of the competition, losing pool matches to Slovakia (80-72) and Spain (64-61).

France lost twice to the Russians at the World Championships last year and again during a pre tournament friendly in Grenoble earlier this month.

But France captain Audrey Sauret is equally confident of an upset. "They are not invincible," she said.

Yet whatever the outcome, Jardel insists the French will have exceeded all expectations.

"The impression we will leave in this Euro is to have had the courage to try talented but inexperienced players," he said.

"It worked and because of that I think that we did a great job."

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