Florent Malouda says France’s players must harness the “hatred of defeat” as they try to regroup after falling to a shock defeat against Belarus in their Euro 2012 qualifying opener.
Laurent Blanc’s depleted side went down 1-0 to Belarus, who are ranked 78th in the world, in Paris on Friday and now face an awkward trip to face Group D rivals Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday.
The scenario mirrors the start of France’s 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, when they lost 3-1 in Austria in their first game, and Malouda admits such results give a fair reflection of Les Bleus’ current standing in the game.
“The FIFA rankings tell the story,” he said on Saturday.
“We’re 21st in the world, we’re sliding and we’ve produced a lot of disappointing performances.
“There’s a drop in the level of performance and we didn’t just discover that in the defeat yesterday (Friday). We need to have a hatred of defeat. We’ll get back step by step.”
Former France great Michel Platini, the current UEFA president, says his country does not currently possess a group of exceptional footballers and Malouda, who wore the captain’s armband against Belarus, is in agreement.
“We can talk about (having) a great generation when we’ve won some titles,” said the Chelsea winger.
“There’s nothing shameful in saying that. Yes, we’re not a great generation. We musn’t take it badly.”
France are trying to turn the page on a humiliating World Cup campaign that saw them bow out at the group stage after the players staged a strike in protest at the exclusion of Nicolas Anelka for clashing with former coach Raymond Domenech.
The Stade de France was almost full on Friday evening but the fans’ pre-match optimism had turned to booing and jeering by the time the players left the field.
France have now lost four games in a row for the first time since 1937 and Malouda believes the players can only halt their wretched string of results by channelling the negative energy created by defeat.
“It’s not easy to recover and to show your character,” he said.
“Disappointment is all well and good but there has to be a feeling of revolt. It has to stop, all these defeats.”
Blanc’s task has been complicated by suspensions imposed on key first-team players Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan and Franck Ribery — as well as Anelka — for their roles in the World Cup fiasco.
Yoann Gourcuff is also unavailable after he was sent off in South Africa, while strikers Loic Remy, Louis Saha and Guillaume Hoarau all injured themselves against Belarus and join a host of players including Arsenal schemer Samir Nasri on the sidelines.
Blanc has called Lyon forward Jimmy Briand into the squad for the trip to Bosnia and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been declared fit after missing Friday’s game with an ankle injury.
“We’ll put together a team to win the points — it’s imperative — but it’s easy to say that beforehand,” said Blanc.
“The Bosnian team is one of the best in the group and we’ll be away from home in a difficult atmosphere.”
Asked how long the rebuilding process would take for France, Blanc struck an ominously cautious note.
“I have no answer to that but it could take months or we might never even get there,” he said. “That’s the problem we’re facing.”
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