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According to one report, less than 50 per cent of the French population think that les Bleus will qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.

A vote commissioned by L’Equipe has shown that the French public has very little confidence in their national side recovering from their awkward start to their qualification campaign. At present, les Bleus sit five points behind Serbia and Lithuania in UEFA World Cup qualifying Group 7 and, although they have a game in hand over both sides, a study has shown that less than half of those questioned believed that they will watch their national team perform in South Africa in 2010.

The publication states that 1050 people aged over 15-years-old were questioned on March 11 and 12 but, of those quizzed, a staggering 53 per cent believe that World Cup qualification is beyond their side. This statistic should be treated with some care because only 38 per cent of those asked admitted to taking a serious interest in football. Nevertheless, there are clearly serious doubts over the team’s ability.

Franck Ribery certainly dismissed the poll. “These reactions are stupid and do not make a difference,” he blasted. “When the crowd whistles Karim [Benzema] or coach [Raymond] Domenech, they must know that it’s the whole French team that they are hissing.”

He may be critical of the fans, but Ribery would certainly feel they would have a point if France were to be eliminated at this early stage.  “A failure would be scandalous,” he declared.

Les Bleus stand dangerously close to such a point. If they were to pick up anything less than six points against Lithuania in their forthcoming double-header, les Bleus would be staring directly at the possibility of a tricky play-off encounter in the autumn.

Robin Bairner,