French players hit by cold as Argentina final looms

Several France players have caught colds, the French Football Federation said, as they prepare for the World Cup final against Argentina, with Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate last to fall ill on Friday.

Central defender Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot missed Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Morocco due to illness.

Coach Didier Deschamps refused to panic after Wednesday’s game, saying they were careful to make sure the disease didn’t spread. Striker Randal Kolo Muani, who came off the bench to score France’s second goal in their victory over Morocco, said on Friday: “There is a bit of flu that is spreading but nothing serious. They will get well soon and be ready for Sunday.

A French press officer added: “As you know, Randal is not a doctor, we will communicate about that later.”

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Kolo Muani said the players who got sick were in isolation.

“Those who are sick stay in their room, they are cared for by the doctors and we maintain social distancing. We are very strict about it,” he said.

Striker Ousmane Dembele said: “We are not afraid of that virus. Dayot and Adrien got a little stomach ache, I made them tea with ginger and honey and they felt better. I hope everyone is ready for the final.

“Dayot got better and I think everyone will be ready. We have taken precautions. The first day Dayot stayed in his room and we brought him food and the next day he was back with everyone.”

Deschamps was confident that both Upamecano and Rabiot would be fit for Sunday’s clash at Lusail Stadium.

“Dayot will be fit. He had been unwell for three days since Saturday… had a fever and that affected his strength,” he said on Wednesday.

“Given the difficult game we had, I decided not to play him and to play Konate instead, because he has shown that he is good enough to play at this level.

“Rabiot was ill, was better this afternoon but not well enough so he stayed in the hotel. We have four days to rest so he should be better and available for Sunday.”

However, should Konate and Varane be eliminated, Deschamps would face a difficult selection decision as he would be without two of his top three defenders.

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