France wins Confederations Cup

Thierry Henry scored seven minutes into overtime to give defending champion France a 1-0 victory over Cameroon in the Confederations Cup final.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Saint Denis:

The Confederations Cup final will be remembered for tears, not goals. The death of Marc-Vivien Foe three days earlier created a sombre finish for the much-criticized tournament, which ended on Sunday when Thierry Henry scored seven minutes into overtime to give defending champion France a 1-0 victory over grieving Cameroon. "For once, it was a match that I would not have minded losing," Henry said. "That's the first time I have felt like that about a game." There was a subdued mood at Stade de France for the eight-nation, 12-day tournament's finale, which came three days after Foe collapsed and died during his team's semifinal win over Turkey in Lyon. Results of the autopsy have not yet been released. With the widow of the 28-year-old midfielder watching from the official box, players from France and its former colony joined arms before and after the game, bonding to carry the burden of having to play the match. Cameroon goalkeeper Idriss Kameni kept thinking of Foe. "I've hardly slept over the past few days. The images kept coming back into my head," he said. "We missed Foe on the field as a player and off it as someone we could lean on." Les Bleus celebrated briefly after Henry's tournament-high fourth goal ended a dull game with few scoring chances, and the opponents then hugged each other. Though fans chanted Henry's name for a minute or so, their reaction was muted. When they accepted their runner-up medals, Cameroon players wore green jerseys with Foe's No. 17 and carried a 5-foot-high photograph of him onto the podium. Cameroon captain Rigobert Song placed Foe's medal on a corner of the picture. "The result wasn't the most important thing here today. We did this for Marco," Song said. "It's just a pity we lost." Many in the crowd of 51,985 -- about 23,000 short of capacity -- repeatedly chanted "Fo-e! Fo-e!" as the medals were handed out, and fans kept it up as both teams made a slow lap of the field, with France's players following Cameroon's by about 20 feet. Foe played for Cameroon in the 1994 and 2002 World Cups, and was among his nation's top soccer stars. He was voted the third-best player in the tournament behind Henry and Turkey's Tuncay Sanli. Foe's wife, Marie Louise, sat near FIFA president Sepp Blatter as tributes were paid to her husband. Cameroon's players all wore No. 17 during warmups and on the bench, as did Indomitable Lions coach Winnie Schaefer. "My team really did well to play the way it did," Schaefer said. "It was a wonderful day of soccer, but also a very sad day. It was important for us to play for the whole of Africa and for Foe. He was more than a great player, he was a great man." Pregame entertainment was canceled, and players from both teams came out of the tunnel onto the field before the start and held hands. The team captains carried Foe's photo, and Cameroon's players had Foe's name on their white game jerseys along with the dates of his birth and death. France's players wore black bands on their left arms. There were banners brought by fans to the stadium remembering Foe, who played in France for Racing Lens and Olympique Lyon. Outside, T-shirts in both green and white with Foe's name and number were sold at concession stands for $11.50 each. Cameroon's starters posed for their pre-game team picture along with Foe's photo. The starters from both teams then walked to the center of the field, where they stood in a circle, players alternating by team, arms around each other's shoulders. After an announcement was made, fans and the teams stood silently for about 30 seconds. Some Cameroon players cried. "I will remember the moment's silence, which for those who knew Marco, was very, very long," said France coach Jacques Santini, Foe's former coach at Lyon. Many players and coaches have said the Confederations Cup is unnecessary following the long European seasons, and they complained about a schedule that forced the finalists to play five games in 12 days. Samuel Eto'o, who scored twice Saturday night as Real Mallorca won the Spanish King's Cup in the final game of the European club season, entered as a substitute in the 67th minute and just missed scoring three minutes later when he tried to poke a cross between French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez and the near post. (AP)