| After scoring France’s first goal, Thierry Henry pointed to the sky. He dedicated his goal to the memory of the late Marc-Vivien Foe. (Reuters)
Paris: European champions France overcame their sorrow and a strong challenge to tame Turkey 3-2 on Thursday and qualify for the Confederations Cup final. The game was played in a very emotional atmosphere after Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed and died during his side’s 1-0 victory over Colombia in the first semi-final in Lyon (as reported in Friday’s Late City edition).
Several France players, like striker Sidney Govou, goalkeeper Gregory Coupet and even coach Jacques Santini, were friends of Foe, who wore the colours of French league side Olympique Lyon before joining Manchester City last season.
However, if they ended the match with a collective smile, they certainly began it with tears in their eyes as a minute’s silence was observed for Foe before the playing of the national anthems.
France, the defending champions, went ahead with a close-range goal by striker Thierry Henry in the 11th minute and he then set up his Arsenal teammate Robert Pires for the second.
Turkey, however, reduced the deficit through midfielder Gokdeniz Karadeniz in the 41st minute.
Another Arsenal man, Sylvain Wiltord, hit back two minutes later to give the European champions a 3-1 advantage at the interval.
Turkey, who eliminated world champions Brazil in the group stage, moved up a gear in the second half and striker Tuncay Sanli volleyed their second in the 48th minute.
Three minutes from time, they were given the perfect chance to equalise when Olivier Dacourt was ruled to have fouled Alpay Ozalan in the box, but Okan Yilmaz dragged his penalty wide.
Earlier, in Lyon, ten-man Cameroon booked their place in the final, but celebrations were overshadowed by the death of Foe.
Foe collapsed in the centre circle at the Stade Gerland about 15 minutes from time, and was carried off on a stretcher with a breathing tube in his mouth. He died around half an hour later. Cameroon were fired into a ninth-minute lead by striker Pius Ndiefi but had defender Bill Tchato red-carded an hour later.
Eric Djemba-Djemba sent a high ball from the right to the far post, Mohamadou Idrissou headed back past ’keeper Oscar Cordoba across the face of his goal and Ndiefi volleyed into an empty net.
Henry dedicates goal
France striker Thierry Henry dedicated the goal he scored to Foe. Foe was the first footballer to die during an official tournament and the first to die in a full international since Nigeria’s Samuel Okwaraji collapsed on the pitch in a World Cup qualifier against Angola in 1989.
After netting the ball, Henry shrugged off his teammates’ congratulations and pointed to the sky, a gesture that triggered tears in the eyes of Santini. “Everyone in the world of football is shocked,” Henry said. “The first goal was for him.”
“Even the victory can’t lift our mood,” Santini, a former Olympique Lyon coach, said. “There is nothing to say. It’s really hard for those who knew him.”
Fifa president Sepp Blatter led the tributes to Foe on Thursday after learning of the death. “Fifa and the whole family of football are shattered by this unbelievable tragedy,” Blatter said in a statement in Paris.
Cameroon, however, will play in Sunday’s final, a Fifa official said on Friday.
And former African Player of the Year Roger Milla said Cameroon want to play on “because Marc wanted to be champion of this tournament”.
Fifa may also name the next Confederations Cup after Foe. “We have already had a proposal that the next Confederations Cup would bear his name,” Blatter said. Manchester City, the club where Foe spent on loan last season, may stop using their No. 23 shirt in memory of the deceased player, the Premiership club said Friday.