Lyon striker Gomis called up to France squad
France coach Laurent Blanc called up Bafetimbi Gomis to the squad that will play the last two European Championship qualifiers against Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina next month.
The Lyon striker has been in outstanding form lately, becoming the top scorer in the French league with six goals and notching the opening goal in Lyon's 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Tuesday.
''That was an obvious pick given what he has achieved since the start of the season,'' Blanc told a news conference.
Gomis was the only addition to the squad that beat Albania 2-1 and drew 0-0 with Romania in September.
The last match Gomis played for France was in October 2009, a 3-1 win over Austria in a World Cup qualifier.
Top of Group D, France has a one-point lead over Bosnia. It will host Albania on Oct. 7 and Bosnia on Oct. 11.
France needs four points from these two matches to win the group and qualify for Euro 2012.
But Blanc made it clear that France will aim to win both games.
''We will prepare to win those matches. We must win those matches,'' Blanc said. ''We know that a certain number of points will be enough to qualify, but I think that this kind of calculation would not be a good thing.''
Blanc knows what he's talking about.
The last time France failed to qualify for a major tournament was in 1993, when it lost to Israel and Bulgaria to miss out on the World Cup in the United States.
Blanc was part of that squad.
''We must be ambitious in our game and not think about anything else,'' Blanc said. ''We play at home. We must take the initiative, score goals and if possible not concede any.''
Blanc said it was better for France to have its destiny in its own hands, rather than relying on the other teams' results to qualify.
''Mental strength at the top level is crucial,'' Blanc said. ''We will be under pressure to get something, that's a positive pressure. I'd rather have that than playing a match under pressure to avoid something. It's not the same kind of pressure.''
Blanc included Alou Diarra in the squad despite the Marseille midfielder's poor form this season.
''I know him very well. I know what he's able of doing for us,'' said Blanc, who was his coach when Bordeaux won the French league title in 2009.
''His presence is important in such matches. His start to the season has been mediocre and he's aware of that. But at the mental level, he's an important player for the squad.''
Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kevin Gameiro (Paris Saint-Germain), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Loic Remy (Marseille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).