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   27 May, 2002 | 1325 IST


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Injury scares for France, Italy

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Scott McDonald

Co-favourites France and Italy both suffered injury scares as they snatched wins in their final warm-up matches on Sunday before the start of the World Cup.

The French beat co-hosts South Korea 3-2 with a last-minute goal from Frank Leboeuf, but inspirational playmaker Zinedine Zidane was taken off in the first half after picking up a knock.

The world's most expensive player then applied an ice pack to his left thigh, a worrying sign for France coach Roger Lemerre.

"He has a small tear, a little pain in his thigh muscle," Lemerre told reporters after the game.

"When it's muscular, you are always worried because you never know how long it is going to take to heal."

Zidane arrived two days after the rest of his team mates this week after attending the birth of his third son, and Lemerre had said the tournament would not really start for France until his key player had arrived.

Leboeuf's 89th minute goal helped France overcome a determined South Korea, who had taken a 2-1 lead before 43,000 screaming and flag-waving fans in Suwon, South Korea.

Christophe Dugarry also scored in the second half for France after South Korea's Park Ji sung and Choi Tae uk had replied to David Trezeguet's opening goal.

France open the tournament and the defence of their world title against Senegal in Seoul on Friday.


Italy scored two first-half goals to beat Japanese champions Kashima Antlers 2-1, but saw striker Filippo Inzaghi -- who opened the scoring with a header -- limp off after appearing to suffer a thigh injury.

Playing against a side thrashed 5-1 in midweek by Argentina, Italy were in control with Christian Vieri scoring the other goal but it was still a far from peak performance from the three-time champions.

Team doctor Andrea Ferretti said Inzaghi would undergo a scan on Monday.

"He had a problem with his left knee, it's too early to say any more," Ferretti said.

But the good news for coach Giovanni Trapattoni was the return of playmaker Francesco Totti after a month out with a thigh injury.

England stumbled in their last warm-up match, needing an injury-time header from substitute Robbie Fowler for an undeserved 2-2 draw against Cameroon in Kobe, Japan.

The result was not promising ahead of England's first game in the "group of death" on June 2 against Sweden, but coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said David Beckham's recovery from a broken bone in his foot was on schedule and the England captain should be fit for the match.

"Everything is as planned so far. We think and we hope he will be fit for Sunday," he said.

"He's started running more and more, and hopefully in the middle of the week he will practise with the rest of the team with the ball.

The other teams in group F are Argentina and Nigeria.


A superior Cameroon side led twice through goals from Samuel Eto'o after five minutes and Geremi after 58, before Fowler repeated Darius Vassell's first-half equaliser.

Away from the field, the tournament's referees warned that they would crack down on the play-acting and exaggerated falls, dives and screams that some players use to trick referees into penalising their opponents.

"The FIFA goal for this tournament is cheating, simulation. We and all the people involved in football have to do something to get away from simulation, diving on the field. It is very, very bad behaviour," top referee Pierluigi Collina told reporters at a meeting of the 36 World Cup referees.

The sport's ruling body said it wanted such trickery wiped out for the World Cup in Korea and Japan, just as it cracked down on dangerous tackles from behind at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Sepp Blatter, facing allegations of financial mismanagement just days before standing for re-election as FIFA president, defended his record, saying he had done nothing illegal in his career with soccer's world governing body.

"I am confident that in the 27 years I have been in FIFA, I have not committed anything which shall go to court or which a court should consider as an offence which should go into criminal law," Blatter told a news conference in Seoul.

The 66-year-old Swiss lawyer faces a fight for his job against Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian head of the African Football Confederation.

The vote will take place on Wednesday during FIFA's regular congress in Seoul.

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