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Seven Muslim footballers to watch when France plays Croatia in FIFA 2018 World Cup Final

Friday July 13, 2018 0:08 AM, Web Desk

Paul Pogba

[Paul Pogba was in news earlier when he went to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah before the start of the FIFA 2018 World Cup.]

Mumbai: When the FIFA 2018 World Cup opened in Russia on June 14, out of the total 32 teams, 07 teams were representing Islamic countries, with all or majority of their team members being Muslims. All of these teams were nocked out of FIFA 2018 World Cup before qualifying for Quarter Final.

However, hopes of Muslim footballers playing the FIFA 2018 World Cup got a boost when France beat Belgium in the Semi Final and reached the Final to face Croatia on Sunday July 15.

France has a total of 07 footballers in its national team who are Muslims. They are: Adil Rami (of Moroccan descent), Djibril Sidibé (of Malian descent), Benjamin Mendy (of Senegalese descent), Paul Pogba (of Guinean descent), N’Golo Kanté (of Malian descent), Nabil Fekir (of Algerian descent) and Ousmane Dembélé (of Malian descent).

Of the above Muslim players who are part of the France World Cup Squad, Paul Pogba was in news earlier when he went to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah before the start of the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

Experts say key to France’s success in the 2018 World Cup Final will be to get all its star players playing to the best of their ability, including Paul Pogba. Pogba’s form for Manchester United has been consistently underwhelming this season and at times Jose Mourinho preferred their 21-year-old academy graduate Scott McTominay over their record signing. Like his form in Manchester, Pogba’s performances for France have fluctuated.

With more freedom Pogba has shown he can be Les Bleus’ best player, but with tactical restrictions forced upon him he is a much less impressive player. If Deschamps can get the best out of Pogba, France will be an even more feared side. If not, they have still got, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and a host of other incredible players available to them.

In a disappointing league campaign for Chelsea, there was always one consistently excellent player: N’Golo Kante. Nobody has ever walked away from Stamford Bridge or the Stade de France thinking he’s put in a less than excellent shift. A late emerger on the international stage, Kante, 27, only has 22 caps and played his first ever competitive game for France - the first game of the 2016 Euros.

Manchester City fans did not quite see the entire Benjamin Mendy package the club paid over £50m for, on the pitch anyway. The attacking wing-back suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his fourth league game and returned to action six months later in April. Despite the injury-hit season, he has gained a place in France’s World Cup squad but has been trading starts with Lucas Hernandez in warm-up friendlies.

France makes to FIFA World Cup Final after 12 years. Its national football team always had Muslim players in the past also. Prominent among them were Zinedine Zidane, Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Franck Ribéry, Samir Nasri and few others. Of them, Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema stood out for being among top goal scorer for the French National Football team.

The career record of Zinedine Zidane, who played for France from 1994 to 2006, reads 31, 108, 0.29, whereas the score card of Karim Benzema (2007–2015) is 27, 81, 0.33.

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