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Sweet vindication for Domenech
« on: July 06, 2006, 04:28:10 PM »

Sweet vindication for Domenech
By : Tim Rich in Munich, 06/07/2006

Winning team: Raymond Domenech celebrates victory with Thierry Henry
Not since Elvis Presley quit the cheap film sets that had become his life, exchanged a Hawaiian shirt for black leather and began singing Suspicious Minds, has there been a comeback quite like it.

The overwhelming feeling in the French dressing room would have been one of vindication. Zinedine Zidane, who returned to the colours when France were struggling to overcome Israel in qualification, ensured his farewell to football will be in a World Cup final. For Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez, who returned with him, the exit will be as grand. "The coach brought me back against my better judgement," Thuram smiled. "This is a boyhood dream and I can't quite believe how football works."

For Raymond Domenech, who brought them back and was vilified as an ageing, unimaginative side stumbled through the group stage, the thought this campaign would end in Berlin seemed beautifully sweet. "After we played the Swiss, in the opening game, we played every match with the possibility of going home hanging over us," said Domenech, with his air of an unworldly professor. "The pressure you feel as a coach makes you believe you are going to be hanged.

"The quality of this team is their real capacity to suffer; to go through hard times, to hold out to the end. Everyone is capable of sacrificing themselves for the team. By the end they were exhausted."

Weariness might be France's greatest enemy. Domenech thought a final against Italy would pitch together the teams that had produced the greatest displays of this tournament - the French victory over Brazil and the victors of the first, epic semi-final over the Germans in Dortmund. But it is perfectly possible Zidane, the man who orchestrated the triumph of 1998, may come to dominate the build-up to the 18th World Cup final completely, something that gave his manager mixed feelings.

"Zidane is already a world champion, he has his photo on most walls in Marseille and by coming back he has given this team something lasting and given the French public real dreams but that has been the case for the last 10 years. You have to remember that we are playing in a World Cup final, not Zidane's testimonial."

Domenech is an amateur astrologer and is said to have a particular anxiety about Scorpios, although as this is the sign under which both Luiz Filipe Scolari and Luis Figo were born, those fears might have diminished. 'Big Phil' attempted to take his first defeat in a World Cup with as much grace as he could muster but the anger kept seeping through the cracks, although he conceded the penalty awarded against Thierry Henry had been just.

When told Domenech considered that Portugal had given France a tougher ride than Brazil, Scolari interjected that this gave him no satisfaction at all and attacked the attitude of the French players and the referee. "Their players made some absurd comments about our players using words that cannot be repeated in a press conference but they had good defenders and gave Cristiano Ronaldo little room. We know South American referees - they know how to kill a game.

"The frustration and taste of this defeat will last about five hours, I will have to soak up this defeat and then speak to those close to me." Then, he turned, gave the thumbs up for the last time and was gone, his reputation burnished even by defeat.


« Last Edit: July 06, 2006, 04:34:08 PM by Blwe_torch »
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