Domenech counts on misfiring marksmen's pride

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POLOKWANE - France's misfiring marksmen have to hit the target sometime and will be inspired to do so in their second World Cup match against Mexico on Thursday, coach Raymond Domenech said on Wednesday.

France's high-profile forwards have not scored an international goal since last November and had better wake up to avoid putting the 1998 champions in a tricky situation before facing hosts South Africa in their final Group A game.

"I hope they are irritated at not scoring," Domenech, whose men started their campaign with a tepid 0-0 draw with Uruguay, told reporters when asked about his strikers' lack of accuracy on the eve of the game against Mexico in northern Polokwane.

"A striker is made for scoring goals. Strikers of such quality as ours will manage to score eventually, that's for sure. Let's hope it will be very soon."

France, who needed a controversial play-off win over Ireland to win a ticket to South Africa, are determined to avoid another early exit after their Euro 2008 flop and dream of a repeat of their surprise run to the final of the previous World Cup.

"Every time we had our backs against the wall, we did something important," said captain Patrice Evra, sitting next to Domenech at the pre-match news conference.

The rotten atmosphere that marred France's dismal Euro 2008 run has made way for a good one and, more importantly, the players are united and confident they can go places, the elegant left back said.

NO CLUES

"We're not just a group of mates, we speak up when something's not working," he said. "I can see the signs telling me we are capable of achieving something here. This team will remain solid until the end."

Domenech, who always keeps his cards close to his chest, refused to drop any clues when asked whether Franck Ribery could take over the playmaking duties from Yoann Gourcuff, a change suggested by France's final training session.

Nor did he say whether winger Florent Malouda would be back in the starting lineup, or if Thierry Henry would win back his place up front at the expense of Nicolas Anelka.

"All I can tell you is we'll start with 11 players wanting to win," the enigmatic coach said.

The mood back home, Domenech knows, is somewhat hostile, with the team, and the coach himself in particular, facing a mixture of criticism and scepticism from the local fans and media.

"I don't care," the France coach said when asked about that. "I've been saying it for six years. What is being said from the outside I can't change."

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