Doha, Nov 19 (EFE).- The thigh injury Karim Benzema suffered here Saturday while training with the French national team for World Cup 2022 in Qatar will prevent the 34-year-old striker from taking part in the tournament, France’s Football Federation said.
“I’ve never given up in my life but tonight I have to think of the team, as I have always done,” Benzema said on Instagram. “So reason tells me to give my place to someone who can help our squad have a great World Cup. Thanks for all your messages of support.”
Benzema, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner, was not part of the France team that hoisted the World Cup in 2018, but he has become integral to the current side as the strike partner for Kylian Mbappe.
The Real Madrid star has been hampered by injury this season and played fewer than 30 minutes over the past month. Saturday was the first time this week that he trained with the rest of the French squad.
After receiving the Ballon d’Or last month, Benzema said that winning the World Cup was his main focus.
“I am extremely sad for Karim, who had made this World Cup a major objective,” coach Didier Deschamps said in a statement. “Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us.”
The coach has until Monday – day before France’s World Cup opener against Australia – to add a player to the squad.
AS Monaco captain Wissam Ben Yedder, Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Lemar, Anthony Martial of Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen man Moussa Diaby are seen as possibilities to take Benzema’s place on the squad.
Deschamps has already had to make two changes to the roster he announced on Nov. 9, replacing the injured Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku with Axel Disasi and Randal Kolo Muani, respectively.
Benzema scored three goals for the French side that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil before being eliminated by eventual winners Germany.
The most likely replacement for Benzema against Australia is Olivier Giroud, 36, who needs just three goals to surpass Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading scorer.
Joining France and Australia in Group D are Denmark and Tunisia.