Malouda set to start against Mexico


POLOKWANE, June 17 – Chelsea star Florent Malouda looks set to start in France's second World Cup Group A match against Mexico on Thursday after he played in the first team in a practice game on the eve of the game.Malouda – a member of the side that lost on penalties in the 2006 final – was a surprise omission from the starting XI that faced Uruguay in the 0-0 draw last Friday amid reports he had a heated training ground row with coach Raymond Domenech.

Malouda denied such a row had happened and it looks certain he will start Thursday’s match, having played on the left flank alongside playmaker Franck Ribery in Wednesday’s practice game, while Bordeaux’s Yoann Gourcuff drops to the bench.

However, Nicolas Anelka and Sidney Govou, two other players heavily criticised after the first match, look likely to retain their places as they played for the ‘first team’ – the former up front and the latter, who missed a sitter early in the Uruguay match, to the right of midfield.

Gourcuff’s omission comes after a difficult end of the season at Bordeaux where the 2009 French champions failed to retain their title and even missed out on a Champions League spot.