France arrives in Qatar for the World Cup

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Injury-hit France arrived in Qatar on Wednesday to begin the defense of their World Cup title, with coach Didier Deschamps guiding the team off the plane after it touched down.

The squad was to participate in stretching exercises before dinner.

Forward Randal Kolo Muani, who was called up on Wednesday morning to replace the injured Christopher Nkunku, was expected to join the squad on Thursday night.

Nkunku injured his left knee after a challenge by midfielder Eduardo Camavinga moments before the end of the final training session on Tuesday night in France.

Deschamps is without injured midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, who helped France win the World Cup four years ago. Central defender Presnel Kimpembe withdrew on Monday after failing to fully recover from a six-week layoff following a hamstring injury.

Deschamps is anxiously waiting to see if his best central defender, Raphael Varane, is fit to face Australia on November 22, exactly one month after he limped off to Manchester United with a hamstring injury.

There are also doubts about the physical condition of Karim Benzema. Since he won the Ballon d'Or last month, Benzema has played less than 30 minutes for Real Madrid, coming off the bench in a Champions League game.

France begins their title defense against Australia on November 22 at Al Janoub Stadium, then faces Denmark before completing their Group D matches against Tunisia on November 30.

No team has successfully defended its World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.

When Les Bleus entered the 2002 tournament as defending champions, they exited in the group stage.

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