France to increase troops in Central African Republic
The Manchester City striker headed off the post before watching goalkeeper Giorgi Loria palm his powerful, acrobatic bicycle volley over goal. In the 26th minute, Pedro floated a deep pass for Iniesta to tap back to Negredo to guide into the top of goal. Iker Casillas returned to starting lineup for Spain after being replaced by Victor Valdes against Belarus, and the Real Madrid goalie showed no rust in denying efforts from Nikoloz Gelashvili and Jano Ananidze before the break. Spain enjoyed more than 75 percent of the possession and never relented at the Carlos Belmonte Stadium as Mata stroked home a loose ball inside the area just three minutes after replacing Pedro. Spain heads into Brazil looking for an unprecedented fourth straight major title by adding a second World Cup crown to its two European championships. At Stade de France, Ribery hit a shot with ferocious power into the top right corner in the eighth minute for his fourth goal in three games. Mathieu Valbuena, Olivier Giroud, and Samir Nasri all came close to adding a second before halftime as the French knew goals were needed to have any chance of finishing top of the group if Spain slipped up. Those goals came after the restart after Tovio whacked Giroud’s 76th-minute header into the roof of goal while trying to clear it off the line. Benzema converted Ribery’s perfectly weighted cross with a well-taken volley with three minutes to play, but France advances to the playoff as it did four years ago when it beat Ireland to reach South Africa. FIFA holds the draw on Monday for next month’s playoff. “That’s what we were looking for (confidence). We are much more in control than we were before,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “The players are in really good shape at the moment.
Spain qualifies for World Cup, France into playoff
An Air France-KLM spokesman declined to comment. Alitalia has not turned a profit since 2002 and came close to being grounded at the weekend after its major creditor Eni (ENI.MI) threatened to cut fuel supplies. Rome patched together an emergency 500 million-euro fund, persuading the state-owned post office to commit to providing 75 million euros via a capital increase and banks Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) and Unicredit (CRDI.MI) to guarantee up to 100 million euros, while a broader consortium of banks stump up 200 million in existing and new loans. But the plan still leaves Alitalia dependent on finding at least 125 million euros from its shareholders, who have 30 days to decide whether to sign up. That gives Air France considerable leverage. The Franco-Dutch carrier was barred from a full takeover of Alitalia in late 2008 by then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Alitalia has lost 700,000 euros a day in the intervening period and Italy’s current government and Alitalia’s shareholders are now hoping to persuade Air France to up its stake – though there is still considerable political discomfort about any merger. So far all parties have failed to agree financial commitments and business strategy. Alitalia wants to reposition itself in the higher-margin long-haul market after losing out in regional and domestic routes to competition from low-cost carriers and high-speed trains. That plan appears to clash with Air France’s demands for a much tougher restructuring and debt-cutting measures. Analysts have said the logical way to save the Italian carrier would be for Air France-KLM to take over the operating core of the airline and get rid of the entire Alitalia back-office structure, but that would mean severe cost cuts and job losses, which Rome and unions are likely to oppose bitterly. If Air France-KLM does not participate in the share issue, it could be overtaken by the Italian post office as Alitalia’s top shareholder and its own stake could drop to below 15 percent. This would effectively cost the company its veto power on any new shareholders coming in. And if Alitalia were to fail, Air France-KLM would lose access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market.
SECURITY WOES France currently has about 400 troops in Bangui, protecting the airport and French interests. Fabius did not say how many troops will be added, but sources have told Reuters the numbers could be increased to about 700-750. Fabius said the dissolution of Seleka, a grouping of five northern rebel movements, must be real and concrete. “We cannot have armed bands roaming the country,” Fabius told a news conference in the riverside capital. “We will not let you down.” The French minister and EU’s aid chief, who were greeted by crowds in Bangui, some holding banners urging France to not to abandon the former colony, met transitional leader Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye. Djotodia, who was formally sworn in as the transitional president in August, has an 18-month deadline, set by central African heads of state, to organize elections. He has said he will not run in the election. A senior Central African Republic military official said the country was counting on France because the regional peacekeeping force was not visible on the ground and the population was losing faith in them. “What we need is more French troops with a clear mandate,” the official said, requesting not to be identified. However, while the leaders work out how to secure the country enough to hold an election, the situation on the ground continues to get worse, with malnutrition and tuberculosis taking hold and a lack of resources to help patients in need. “We need a massive plan on health and education, but most important, something must be done about insecurity. Outside the capital it is a cancer,” a surgeon at the only pediatric hospital in Bangui – protected by French troops to stop looting – told the delegation. The EU’s Georgieva said the crisis in Central African Republic was unique because it had hit the entire population.
France, Portugal among eight nations set for UEFA World Cup qualifying playoffs
France beat Finland 3-0 in its last Group game, but Spain’s win over Georgia ensured Les Bleus were consigned to second, while Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates finished a point behind Fabio Capello’s Russia in Group F. The one UEFA group runner-up that will miss out on a playoff spot due to its worst record against the first-, third-, fourth- and fifth-placed sides is Denmark due to there only being eight spots up for grabs. Group B’s race for second between four teams – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Armenia and the Danes – went down to the wire, and the way the countries took points off each other worked against them in the end. Sweden was the only team heading into the final round of matches to be guaranteed to be in the playoffs, with Germany a distant Group C winner, no teams challenging for second place and the bottom-placed team already decided. The second team to know its playoff fate was Greece, as Bosnia and Herzegovina won to deny the Euro 2004 winner automatic entry to the World Cup. Croatia already bagged second place in Group A and was able to avoid missing out on the playoffs despite losing 2-0 to Scotland in its final game on Tuesday. Iceland, which has never reached a major international tournament in its footballing history, will be delighted to have a crack at World Cup 2014 qualification after Slovenia was defeated 1-0 by Group E winners Switzerland, meaning the Scandinavians’ 1-1 draw with Norway was enough to finish second. Turkey’s 2-0 defeat to Netherlands ensured that Romania finished ahead of its Group D runner-up challengers, and Fatih Terim’s men slipped from second to fourth, with Hungary hopping into third with its 2-0 win over Andorra. The final spot on Tuesday went to Ukraine, which hammered San Marino 8-0 but was pipped to first place in Group H by England. The draw for the two-legged ties will take place Oct. 21 in Zurich. The seeded sides are Croatia, Portugal, Greece and Ukraine, with France, Sweden, Romania and Iceland set to be the unseeded four sides. Sports & Recreation