Spain qualifies for World Cup, France into playoff
“The Seleka rebels came with weapons, hurt us, burnt our houses and then there were reprisals from Christian militias,” said a woman called Dore at one hospital in Bangui, recounting how she fled hundreds of kilometres on foot with three children all under the age of six. Long seen by many in Central African Republic as meddling in its affairs after independence in 1960, France has intervened in the past, for example when it supported Bozize in 2006 against an earlier incarnation of northern rebels. But official French policy now is for a more “hands-off” stance in such conflicts. Paris is all the more reluctant to be left to deal with another African hotspot after it felt allies such as the United States were hesitant to help it in Mali. Nonetheless, its current 400-strong contingent secure the airport and patrol districts where French interests lie, a move that in itself has worked to deter potential looters. “STATE UNSEATED” Fabius has announced a troop increase by year-end once the U.N. Security Council votes in December on a resolution to strengthen a U.N. mission. Sources said it could increase the total French force to between 700-1,200. “It wouldn’t be an intervention in the classical sense of the word,” Fabius said. “We’re not going to send parachutists, but there needs to be a presence because the state has been completely unseated.” An African Union force soon to number 2,600 and composed of forces from neighbouring states including Chad, Gabon, Congo Republic and Cameroon has deployed as part of the 3,600-strong U.N. mission known by the acronym MISCA. But beyond the capital and the main commercial corridor to Cameroon, the force has not had the military means or financial muscle to venture further afield. In addition, local officials and people resent its largest contingent, Chad, which many accuse of having interfered in its affairs and of being too lenient with ex-rebels.
Air France-KLM, whose 25 percent stake would drop by more than half if it doesnt subscribe to a capital increase, has about a month to decide. The capital increase is part of a 500 million-euro ($677 million) bailout engineered under government supervision last week as Alitalias reserves dwindled, competition intensifies and its fuel supplier threatened to halt deliveries. Air France-KLM itself lost money last year and is eliminating thousands of jobs to turn around domestic operations, raising objections to fund a partner that has been unprofitable for years. Alitalia has a persistent track record of losses and requirements for new capital, said Damian Brewer, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets . So if Air France refrains from putting cash in, so what? The dilutions done. But in most investors minds, its already written down to zero. Air France-KLMs stake in Alitalia, acquired in 2009, would require the airline to commit about 75 million euros to anchor its holding. The capital increase will comprise 300 million euros of the package. Little Appetite Alitalias board met yesterday. Cedric Leurquin, a spokesman for Air France, declined to comment. The airlines stance on Alitalia is preliminary and the company may reconsider its commitment if conditions change, two of the people said. The French airline gave a taste of its reluctance for an Italian bailout in September, when the board met to consider raising its stake and ended up saying it needed more information from its Italian partner before making a decision. Italy s postal company Poste Italiane SpA agreed to contribute 75 million euros, UniCredit SpA (UCG) and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP) will guarantee as much as 100 million euros for eventual unopted rights in the capital increase for Alitalia, which is losing 1.5 million euros a day. Failure to invest now would dilute Air Frances stake to about 11 percent, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said Oct. 13 in a televised interview with SkyTg24.
“It wasn’t our best game ever but all the teams in the group were very strong and it’s very good for us to be in second place,” Jonsson told UEFA.com. “We can do much better than we did here in Belgium but I think the best teams in the group are going through,” Iceland’s coach added. “Belgium were the best of all, they have at least two or three top-quality players. In the future we want to score more goals. Now we will see who we get in the draw, because in football anything can always happen.” France were left to count the cost of three successive stalemates, the last a 2-2 draw with the hosts in Tongeren. Francis Smerecki’s team took a fortunate early lead through Leander Dendoncker’s own goal but second-half strikes from Corentin Fiore and Theo Bongonda put Belgium in charge and an added-time equaliser from captain Adrien Rabiot was not enough for France. “I’m super satisfied,” Belgium coach Gert Verheyen told UEFA.com. “When you’re in a group with France you do not really expect to end up No1. I am really pleased with my team. We did what we had to do against Iceland and Northern Ireland; today it was more difficult but we reacted well in the second half and deserved a draw. I’m really happy, I never imagined we would get seven points in this group.” The home side had made sure of pole position with 2-0 victories in each of their opening fixtures.
Iceland spring surprise on France
Spain’s victory rendered France’s 3-0 win against Finland meaningless as Spain needed just one point to secure passage to Brazil. Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema scored either side of Joona Toivio’s own-goal as France advanced to the playoff among the eight best second-place finishers. Andres Iniesta marked the match played near his hometown by feeding Alvaro Negredo for Spain’s first-half opener, and substitute Juan Mata doubled Spain’s advantage after the break. Spain has qualified for every World Cup since 1978, although Vicente del Bosque became only the second coach after Javier Clemente to guide the team to two World Cups. “It may look practically routine but it’s important to remember how successful we’ve been at qualifying,” Del Bosque said. This is not an easy competition.” Spain showed determination to close out qualifying on a high as it dominated 97th-ranked Georgia from the opening whistle, with the front line of Iniesta, Negredo, Pedro Rodriguez, and Jesus Navas leading the way. Negredo started in place of Michu and caused problems for Georgia’s back four throughout. 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.