Rio surprise at start
By Patrick Haond
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Rio Mavuba admits he is surprised to be picked for France's game with Ireland.Rio Mavuba admits he is surprised that he has been picked to start France's World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland.
The Bordeaux midfielder only made his debut in professional football last season but has made a rapid progression to the international arena.
He was handed his debut for Les Bleus by coach Raymond Domenech in the friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in August.
The African-born starlet has subsequently acquired French citizenship and he has been selected ahead of Alou Diarra for the clash against Ireland on Saturday.
Mavuba's elevation to the starting line-up, even in the absence of Patrick Vieira and Benoit Pedretti, has surprised many people.
The midfielder, who has been compared to Jean Tigana, acknowledged he has also been stunned by how quickly he has forced his way in to the French squad.
"It is logical that people ask themselves some questions about me," said Mavuba. "They can't understand that I only have seven months of experience in Le Championnat.
"But I don't ask myself those questions. I must admit I have been surprised myself by my performances.
"I was even surprised to have been called for the match in Rennes (against Bosnia).
"This time I have taken advantage of injuries and withdrawals. Even if I have worked to come here, it remains a surprise."
Mavuba will come face-to-face with one of the fiercest competitors in football - Roy Keane - on Saturday but he is not afraid of opposing the Irish lynchpin.
He added: "A player remains a player. Even if his career forces you to respect him, I won't be intimidated.
"I must not be scared and I have to fight like I do every weekend for my club. We will try to destabilise the Irish with our vivacity."
|France 4/11 Draw 11/4 Rep. of Ireland 7/1 - |
Click here for full odds with Sky Bet