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French coach denies World Cup qualifier ultimatum

Latest update : 2008-08-27

Under pressure, French football team coach Raymond Domenech has said there was no objective of five points from the first three qualifiers for 2010's World Cup, contrary to a report in French newspaper L'Equipe.

Under-pressure French coach Raymond Domenech on Tuesday scotched rumours that he has been given a points ultimatum for next month's 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Domenech was responding to a report in French sports daily L'Equipe, which said he had been given an objective of five points from the first three qualifiers.

"If I had thought like that in 2004, I would have left after two matches," Domenech told AFP, adding: "Qualifying is the main thing."

"I don't want five points, I want nine points from three matches. The idea is to have the maximum."

Domenech has been under heavy scrutiny since his side's dismal showing at the European championships in June, surviving a French football federation (FFF) confidence vote by the narrowest of margins weeks later.

The FFF imposed certain conditions on Domenech, with the inference that further slip-ups would not be tolerated.

On being asked if he had been given a points ultimatum Domenech replied: "Not at all. This is the first I've heard about it. Nobody has said to me: 'You can start again but you will have a knife under your throat.'

"It was a case of 'What can we do to play in the best possible way?' The discussion with the bosses was more than interesting. The support is there. I have it to try and build something with the team."

Turning to events on the field, Domenech said he wanted to see injured Juventus star Patrick Vieira back in the squad - but only when the player is fully fit.

"He wants to be part of the team and to go with us to South Africa," said the 56-year-old. "I want him with us, but I want the real Patrick Vieira, the one I know, not a weak and injured player."

"I told him: 'Forget about dates and don't fix objectives, it is your body that will tell you if you are in a good shape or not.'"

Domenech also said he had provisionally invited former Chelsea star Claude Makelele to join the squad, even though the Paris St Germain star has retired from international duty.

The coach said he will call on Makelele if he needs someone with experience and maturity.

"The French shirt is important and he knows it. He knows what I'm looking for and he is still open. He says: 'At my age I don't have the power', but he is still happy when I call him."

France begin their World Cup qualifying campaign against Austria on September 6 and Serbia on September 10.

Date created : 2008-08-27