Zidane ban fails to worry Henry

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The Independent Online

Thierry Henry insists France can qualify for the knock-out rounds of the World Cup even without Zinedine Zidane. The French captain is suspended for Les Bleus' last group match against Togo on Friday, but that could prove a blessing in disguise for his underperforming side.

Henry would never admit it publicly, but Zidane's style of play does not suit the Arsenal striker and a more direct approach may pay dividends for him and for France, who should still progress to the next phase if they beat their former colony in Cologne. The striker did point out that France were missing Zidane for two matches due to suspension in 1998 and still managed to win the tournament.

Henry insisted there was a strong bond between the players. "There's no tension, anger or nervousness in the camp," he said and insisted that France's situation was not comparable to 2002 when they went out in the first round without scoring a goal.

"In 2002 we did not create anything at all and that's why we went home," Henry said. "This time we are definitely better, in particular in attack."

It could be that Zidane has played his last World Cup match and even if there are those among his team-mates who hope he has, it is somewhat unlikely, despite his show of anger on being substituted near the end of the 1-1 draw against South Korea on Sunday when he hurled his captain's armband towards the bench.

The France coach, Raymond Domenech, who appeared to be a somewhat feeble figure after the draw, insisted he "was optimistic" that Zidane would feature again in this tournament.

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