Kante and Coman return as France look to clinch World Cup berth


Paris (AFP) – N’Golo Kante and Kingsley Coman were recalled to the France squad by coach Didier Deschamps as the World Cup holders aim to secure their place at the 2022 finals in Qatar in qualifying matches against Kazakhstan and Finland this month.

Chelsea midfielder Kante, who has won 50 caps, did not feature when France won the Nations League title in Italy last month after he contracted Covid-19.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Bayern Munich winger Coman returns after missing the Nations League climax following minor heart surgery.

West Ham United’s Kurt Zouma also returns with Manchester United central defender Raphael Varane absent having been ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring injury suffered playing for his club against Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday.

He had only just returned after coming off injured in France’s 2-1 win over Spain in the Nations League final in Milan on October 10.

“Given the number of games players are having to play, it is not just French players, but most international players unfortunately pick up injuries,” Deschamps said at a press conference in Paris.

“Ideally I would prefer it if nobody had any problems but there are always players who are injured when it comes to naming every squad, and there are other players there to take advantage of that.”

Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig had been tipped to earn a first call-up after an impressive start to the season but was left out, even if Deschamps insisted he was “among the serious candidates”.

France are three points clear of Ukraine at the top of European World Cup qualifying Group D with two games to play.

They host Kazakhstan at the Parc des Princes in Paris on November 13, knowing a win will secure their place in Qatar.

If they slip up against the 125th-ranked Kazakhs, they will have another chance to wrap up qualification when they face Finland in Helsinki three days later.

France squad:

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham United/ENG, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain), Benoit Costil (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton/ENG), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich/GER), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Jules Kounde (Sevilla/ESP), Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano (both Bayern Munich/GER), Kurt Zouma (West Ham United/ENG)

Midfielders: Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Paul Pogba (Manchester United/ENG), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco)

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

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