France striker Nicolas Anelka has warned his team-mates they cannot afford to defend the 1-0 advantage they hold over the Republic of Ireland in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ play-off second leg.
Anelka gave the French a fortunate lead after his deflected second-half shot separated the teams following a closely-fought first leg in Dublin on Saturday night. As a result Raymond Domenech's side will be firm favourites to qualify for South Africa 2010 when the teams resume hostilities in Paris, although Anelka remains wary.
The 30-year-old Chelsea striker, who has never been picked in a France FIFA World Cup finals squad, believes they must attack their visitors if they are to confirm their place in South Africa. "We will play to win on Wednesday because that's the only way we can play freely, and we also want to give the fans something good at Stade de France," Anelka told the French football Federation's website.
"Of course it's good to score away from home, it's a play-off so it's very important. It's satisfying because we wanted to come here and show that we could get a good result. But we shouldn't get carried away, anything can happen."
Anelka admitted France failed to find much fluency during the first leg at Croke Park. "We couldn't get going and develop our game. We talked among ourselves and told each other what we had to do," he added. "We didn't play very well in the first half."
Domenech will again be without Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby for Wednesday night's match with the calf injury that also forced him to miss the first leg. The 23-year-old was ruled out of the match on Monday, less than 24 hours after Jeremy Toulalan and Eric Abidal's absences were also confirmed due to injury.
France have already been without star winger Franck Ribery, who was arguably their best player during a stuttering group qualification campaign, for the play-off with the Irish. Should France qualify it would be the fourth consecutive occasion they have reached the finals - a run that includes their 1998 success on home soil and their appearance in the final in Germany three years ago.