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France: Melain Aiming To Make Up For Olympic Agony

26 August 2004
From Isabelle Rondeau, PA International

France captain Cathy Melain has expressed her frustration at not participating at the Olympics but insists she and her team are fully focused on qualifying for the 2005 European Championships.

Cathy Melain
Les Bleues, who won Euro 2001 but failed to repeat the feat in 2003 and missed out on a place in Athens, are currently in the north of France for a preparation tournament which will see them face Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina and Poland.

However, Melain admits it is sometimes difficult to concentrate, given the disappointment of missing out on competing in Greece.

“It is very hard not to take part in the Olympics,” Melain said. “But this is our fault, we are the only ones to blame.”

Melain, Edwige Lawson, Sandra Le Drean, Nathalie Lesdema and Nicole Antibe are the only survivors from the 2001 European success, and the skipper knows how important it is to perform well in September’s qualifying campaign against Hungary, Lithuania and Italy.

“I don't want to talk yet about the Euro 2005,” she added in L'Equipe.

“We must qualify first, this will be our minimum objective. If I am still here it's because I want to make sure that there is a good transition between the old and the new generation.”

Coach Alain Jardel called up several new faces in the summer including Aurelie Bonnan, Celine Dummerc, Emilie Gomis, Fatimatou Sacko and Emmeline Ndongue.

We will only be a successful team again if we manage to mix the experienced players and the young ones well
Cathy Melain
“We will only be a successful team again if we manage to mix the experienced players and the young ones well,” Melain added.

“This summer I discovered new players and at the start I found they were lacking initiative but they improved a lot even though there is still a lot of work to achieve.”

Jardel is expected to announce his final squad ahead of the Euro 2005 qualifiers next week.

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