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May 14, 2014

Mavuba: It's up to us to be big boys

France head coach Didier Deschamps revealed his 23-man World Cup roster with a key omission in Samir Nasri.

Rio Mavuba has urged France's World Cup squad to avoid a repeat of Les Bleus' farcical tournament in South Africa four years ago.

Laurens: Nasri exclusion no surprise

The stain left by the squad's decision to go on strike in Knysna in protest at Nicolas Anelka's exclusion from the squad for insulting coach Raymond Domenech has yet to be washed from the minds of the French public.

The national team's collective bad-boy image was further fuelled by incidents of poor discipline at Euro 2012, which led to Samir Nasri, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yann M'Vila and Jeremy Menez being hauled before the French Football Federation's Disciplinary Commission.

Mavuba, included in Didier Deschamps' 23-man selection for this summer's trip to Brazil, told RMC he was conscious that all eyes would be on the squad both on and off the pitch, and it was up to the players to be "exemplary."

"We know that we're going to be scrutinised given what has happened in recent competitions," the 30-year-old Lille midfielder explained. "It's up to us to be big boys, to assume our responsibilities and to show a good image. Over and above out on the pitch, we have to be exemplary."

The presence of Mavuba, who won the last of his nine caps in 2012, and the notable absence of Nasri could be interpreted as a sign of Deschamps' determination to not only fashion a competitive squad but also shape one that will not produce controversy.

However, Deschamps himself did that by excluding Eric Abidal. The 34-year-old veteran of France's last two World Cup campaigns had, at the start of the season, been expected to be one of the first names on the list for the flight to South America.

However, disappointing displays for the national team, coupled with a dip in club form during the second half of the season, meant the Monaco defender missed out.

Porto's Eliaquim Mangala was instead selected as one of four centre-backs along with Raphael Varane, Laurent Koscielny and Mamadou Sakho, who told BFM TV he had watched Deschamps' announcement live on national TV with nerves fraying.

"As long as the list had not been announced, I had a knot in my stomach because you can never take anything for granted in football," the Liverpool defender, who scored two goals to help France clinch their finals berth with playoff victory over Ukraine, said.

"I am satisfied with this team. If the coach believes this is the best squad to do well at the World Cup, I respect his choices."

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