Defending champion France arrives in Qatar for World Cup

Nov 15, 2022, 7:57 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 10:15 am

Kylian Mbappe of France's national soccer team arrives with teammates at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 ahead of the upcoming World Cup. France will play their first match in the World Cup against Australia on Nov. 22. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Injury-hit France arrived in Qatar on Wednesday to begin the defense of its World Cup title, with coach Didier Deschamps leading the squad off the plane after it landed.

The squad was to take part in stretching exercises before having dinner.

Forward Randal Kolo Muani, who was called up on Wednesday morning to replace the injured Christopher Nkunku, was expected to join the squad on Thursday evening.

Nkunku injured his left knee following a tackle from midfielder Eduardo Camavinga moments before the end of Tuesday evening’s final training session in France.

Deschamps is without injured midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, who helped France win the World Cup four years ago. Central defender Presnel Kimpembe pulled out Monday after failing to sufficiently recover from a six-week layoff following a hamstring injury.

Deschamps has an anxious wait to see if his best central defender, Raphael Varane, is fit to face Australia on Nov. 22 — exactly a month after he limped off for Manchester United with a hamstring injury.

There’s also some doubt about Karim Benzema’s fitness. Since winning the Ballon d’Or last month, Benzema has played fewer than 30 minutes for Real Madrid, coming off the bench in a Champions League game.

France starts its title defense against Australia on Nov. 22 at Al Janoub Stadium, then faces Denmark before completing its Group D matches against Tunisia on Nov. 30.

No team has successfully defended its World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.

When Les Bleus came into the 2002 tournament as defending champions they went out in the group stage.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo walks during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal a...
Associated Press

Ronaldo loses Portugal spot to sully World Cup journey

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — So, the dream is still alive for Cristiano Ronaldo. Soccer’s most prolific modern-day scorer might yet, at the age of 37 and probably playing in his last World Cup, claim the one major title to elude him in a career like no other. It didn’t quite feel that way, though, as […]
1 day ago
Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, right, and Switzerland's midfielder Denis Zakaria, left, rea...
Associated Press

Switzerland falls again to first World Cup knockout punch

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Switzerland exited the World Cup at the round of 16 stage, just as it usually does in the modern era. A 6-1 rout by Portugal on Tuesday left little space for feeling that progress was made, even if the squad was hit by a bout of sickness in Qatar. Switzerland’s quest […]
1 day ago
Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui is thrown in the air at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

The next World Cup will jump to 48 teams. Is bigger better?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The next World Cup will be the biggest ever after world soccer body FIFA took the leap from a 32-team field to 48 teams in 2026. It means more of soccer’s so-called “little teams” that didn’t make it to Qatar will be given a chance of a lifetime when the tournament […]
1 day ago
A sunken vehicle sit in the Mesaieed sea-line at the GMC dive site in Mesaieed, Qatar Wednesday, No...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup fans explore Qatar’s artificial reefs

MESAIEED, Qatar (AP) — Thirty feet (9 meters) deep into the waters of the Persian Gulf, angel fish swim in and out of rusted trucks and SUVs. Plastic bags and water bottles, blown in from the nearby shoreline, float across the ocean floor. World Cup fans in Qatar hoping to see some of the Gulf’s […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Cone scores 24 as Northern Arizona takes down Pacific 73-69

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Jalen Cole had 24 points in Northern Arizona’s 73-69 victory against Pacific on Tuesday. Cone shot 6 for 12 (3 for 4 from 3-point range) and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line for the Lumberjacks (4-7). Xavier Fuller scored 18 points and added 10 rebounds. Nik Mains recorded nine points […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Blackshear’s 22 help Nevada knock off Pepperdine 85-77

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Kenan Blackshear had 22 points in Nevada’s 85-77 win against Pepperdine on Tuesday. Blackshear was 7 of 15 shooting, including 2 for 4 from distance, and went 6 for 7 from the line for the Wolf Pack (8-2). Jarod Lucas scored 18 points while going 5 of 10 from the floor, […]
1 day ago
Defending champion France arrives in Qatar for World Cup