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France battle to stop spread of virus on eve of World Cup final

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
France battle to stop spread of virus on eve of World Cup final
France's coach Didier Deschamps gives a press conference on the eve of the 2022 World Cup final. Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP

Didier Deschamps said Saturday that France were taking "as many precautions as possible" to stop the spread of a virus that is threatening their preparations for their World Cup final showdown with Argentina.

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"We are trying to take as many precautions as possible, to adapt as necessary and get on with it," the France coach said at a press conference in Doha ahead of Sunday's match.

"Obviously it would be better if this wasn't happening but we are handling it as well as possible with our medical staff."

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Central defensive pair Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate missed training on Friday due to illness, along with winger Kingsley Coman.

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot and defender Dayot Upamecano did not play in Wednesday's semi-final win over Morocco.

Deschamps and his captain Hugo Lloris both insisted they could not offer any health updates on Saturday morning, with the team set to train again later in the day.

"I am fine. As for the players, I left quite early this morning so they were all sleeping," added Deschamps, who spoke to reporters at 11:30 am local time.

"We are trying to handle the situation as well as possible and remain calm and focused.

"I'll get some more information later today and think about that tonight and maybe tomorrow. And of course we're looking forward to being ready for this important game."

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Players, staff and other sources close to the squad have spoken of a range of symptoms affecting the team in recent days, including fever, stomach pains and headaches.

Measures have been taken at the team's hotel, including isolating certain players, but Covid-19 testing is no longer imposed by world governing body FIFA.

France are aiming to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend the World Cup.

They are facing an Argentina side determined to win the trophy in what is likely to be Lionel Messi's last-ever match at the tournament.

"We are never really prepared for this type of thing but we are trying to prepare in the best way possible," Lloris said of the illness worries. "We remain focused and of course we're very excited about playing in a World Cup final."

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