BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
When France beat Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday to book a place for the World Cup familiar, the team‘s achievement followed a pattern the French side established 20 years ago. It was France third qualification for the final after those at home in 1998 and that of Germany 2006.
In their previous won semi-final matches, the French side depended solely on goals by defenders to get to the final.
Twenty years ago on home soil, France fought back from a goal behind to overcome Croatia after Davor Suker had shot the debutants ahead.
Lilian Thuram, a defender salvaged the game for the hosts scoring the two goals that enabled France beat Croatia 2-1.
Incidentally those precious goals were the only ones Thuram, the most capped French player ever scored for France. He had 142 caps.
Again on Tuesday, it was a defender Samuel Umtiti that earned France another final berth.
But more significantly, the French coach, Didier Deschamps has become the fourth World Cup-winning player to reach the Final as a coach.
He followed the path of Brazil’s Mario Zagallo (winner in 1970 and runner-up in 1998) and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer (runner-up in 1986 and winner in 1990) and Germany’s Rudi Voller who was runner-up in 2002.
The defeat of Belgium ensured a tradition of no foreign coach winning the World Cup, Belgium is being handled by Spanish man, Roberto Martinez.
For France, Coach Didier Deschamps took charge of his 11th match as France coach in the World Cup, surpassing the national record he had shared with Michel Hidalgo and Raymond Domenech.