France's Sarkozy hopes Africa won't strike twice

NICE, France (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday he hoped South Africa would not humiliate the France team at next month's soccer World Cup as fellow Africans Senegal did in 2002.

France and hosts South Africa will meet in Bloemfontein in what could be a deciding match in Group A qualifying at the tournament which kicks off on June 11.

"Dear Jacob, I hope the Bafana Bafana will on June 22 be more accommodating with the French team than the Lions of Teranga were in 2002," Sarkozy said in his dinner toast to about 40 African leaders at the 25th Africa-France summit.

Addressing South African President Jacob Zuma, Sarkozy was referring to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan when then holders France lost to Senegal in their opening game and ultimately went out early in the competition.

France, who also made a group-stage exit from Euro 2008 and have kept frustrating their fans with uninspired performances since, still have work to do if they are to make an impact at the World Cup after managing just a draw with Tunisia on Sunday.

Earlier on Monday, Zuma diplomatically told reporters he hoped South Africa would squeeze a draw out of the France.

France will now fly to the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion to play China on Friday in their final warm-up for the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa, where they will face the the hosts, Uruguay and Mexico.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sophie Taylor and Sonia Oxley; To comment on this story: