Relaxed Domenech not out to prove a point

TIGNES - Departing France coach Raymond Domenech will not be seeking to make a point when he leads his team to the World Cup in South Africa.

Domenech, unpopular with France fans, will leave the job after the tournament following a turbulent spell in charge.

"I don't think that way," Domenech told reporters on Tuesday as the France squad gathered for their pre-tournament training camp.

"I live every day as if it were the last. Tomorrow is another day.

"I don't see it as my last experience but rather as my third (at a major tournament)," said the coach, who guided France to the 2006 World Cup final before they made an embarrassing early exit from Euro 2008.

"One went well, the other one didn't, and I learned from both." Helicopters landed one after the other in this Alpine ski village surrounded by snow-capped mountains, which is like a ghost town in the springtime with most hotels and restaurants shut.

The fitness of key central defender William Gallas was still a major talking-point.

The former Arsenal captain arrived in the in the resort at the weekend and has been training daily with fitness coach Robert Duverne.

Gallas, who suffered a recurrence of a calf muscle injury in March and has not played since, was the main reason Domenech trimmed his 30-strong squad to 24 players, giving himself until June 1 to reduce it to the official 23.

"For the moment, he's okay," said Domenech, looking relaxed in a navy blue team track suit. "Every training session is a test. It (the calf muscle) will either hold together or break. I'm impatiently waiting to find out."


If Gallas were ruled fit to play, one centre-back, either Sebastien Squillaci or Marc Planus, would probably leave the squad. Otherwise, both will stay and Domenech could play holding midfielder Jeremy Toulalan at the centre of his defence.

"It's an option we have considered," Domenech said. "Jeremy has showed (with his Olympique Lyon club) that he had potential in that position."

Domenech, criticised since his side's Euro 2008 flop and booed by France fans at every game, is likely to be replaced after the World Cup by former France defender Laurent Blanc.

France, who needed Thierry Henry's infamous handball to qualify for the World Cup through a play-off at the expense of Ireland, have been frustrating their supporters for years and are not among the tournament favourites.

The 1998 world champions should survive a group also featuring hosts South Africa, Mexico and Uruguay but might struggle against more confident sides, as they did when they were outclassed 2-0 by European champions Spain in a March friendly.

Domenech, aware that France came to Tignes to prepare for their 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship triumphs, was not making any predictions.

"The most important thing right now is for the players to get together and prepare in the best conditions," he said.

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