| Monday’s game will be more than a ‘gentle kickabout’ for Fabian Barthez
Paris: A charity match between the 1998 World Cup-winning team and Olympique Marseille on Monday offers Fabien Barthez the rare chance of 90 minutes football to shore up his position as France’s number one goalkeeper.
The game has been organised by Zinedine Zidane, the inspiration behind France’s 3-0 win in the 1998 final against Brazil, to raise money for the victims of the May earthquake in Algeria which killed 2,300 people. Zidane is the son of Algerian immigrants.
Real Madrid midifelder Zidane is confident the entire 1998 team will turn out including Barthez, for whom the game will be far more than a gentle kick-about.
The 32-year-old has yet to be selected for his club Manchester United this season after three years at Old Trafford spent mostly as first-choice for the English champions.
Despite his inactivity at club level, Barthez has remained France’s number one and the European champions have not let in a goal in three matches this season.
But national coach Jacques Santini, whose squad has already secured qualification for Euro 2004, dropped a strong hint on Thursday that unless the bald ’keeper starts playing regularly, his six-year reign as France ’keeper may be nearing its end.
Santini said he would stick by his experienced players for the final Euro 2004 qualifier against Israel on October 11 but after that it would be time to experiment before naming his squad for the finals in Portugal.
“Decisions will have to be taken,” Santini said, when asked about Barthez. “You can imagine that if Barthez has not played for a year....”