French rift shouldn't have gone public: Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is disappointed by France's on-field performances at the World Cup and doesn't agree with the team's actions off it.

Former star not counting France out

Zinedine Zidane is disappointed by France's on-field performances at the World Cup and doesn't agree with the team's actions off it.

But the hero of the 1998 championship team believes the former champions can win their last Group A game against South Africa.

Zidane said France's players should have trained Sunday instead of boycotting practice in protest of Nicolas Anelka being thrown off the squad.

While Zidane labels France's situation "sad," he does believe a victory Tuesday will help it get past its current predicament.

"This team has the possibility to get over this obstacle with this match. Everything can change for them," Zidane said Monday, adding France remains in contention for the title. "I hope they can still get out of this group. There is hope even if everything that has been said to now is the opposite."

France and South Africa have one point each from two matches, and will not progress if Mexico and Uruguay, both at four points, draw in their last Group A match.

Zidane said he could see a positive in defeat: it could shake the team clean of its problems with a coaching change imminent.

"If they lose there's a new coach in Laurent Blanc who will change all of this," Zidane said. "I don't think you can blame one player or another, but Laurent Blanc's arrival will change everything that is happening within the team."

The public rifts between France players, coaches and national officials over Anelka, who was thrown off the squad for insulting coach Raymond Domenech, should never have happened, according to Zidane. France team director Jean-Louis Valentin also resigned from the French Football Federation amid the chaos.

"Nobody agrees with what [Anelka] said or did. What I can't defend is the fact that it came out," Zidane said. "In a lockerroom a lot of things are said, but they should never come out."

Zidane also denied reports he advised France before its 2-0 defeat against Mexico.

"To think that I could call the players and tell them how to play — I mean, you have to be kidding me," Zidane said before explaining his relationship with Domenech. "I never had a problem with this coach, but I never had a good feeling for him. But I respected him in his position as coach. I was on the ship, I was captain of the team [in 2006]."

While Zidane, who said he had no plans to go into coaching anytime soon, laughed about having scheduled his news conference some time ago expecting an easy day. Instead, his former teammates' problems became the only talking point.

"Yes, I'm sad like a lot of people who support this team. Yes, I'm sad because we talk about everything but football," Zidane said. "We're all disappointed, me firstly, because I wore this jersey for a long time and the nicest thing I could have was to wear it."

Former South Africa player Lucas Radebe, who spoke at the event alongside Zidane, hoped South Africa could capitalize on France's problems while avoiding its own implosion.

"You know how important this next match is, so I hope there are no problems — we can't copy France outside the field of play," said Radebe, who played against Zidane at the 1998 tournament. "We know France has problems but that's not our problem. We have to focus our team. Possibly that can be an advantage for us."