Domenech hails 'generous' France
Raymond Domenech hailed 10-man France for the way they reacted to a series of "catastrophes" in the 2-0 loss to Italy which knocked them out of UEFA EURO 2008.
Despite France's meagre harvest of one goal and one point from the competition, 56-year-old Domenech insisted his team had the makings of a side to go into battle with at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
And he believed ill-luck more than any failings displayed by his players had been responsible for them crashing out to Italy here on Tuesday, a result that will call into question his own position as coach despite having a contract up to 2010.
In a defiant display at the post match press conference Domenech said: "Yes I'm disappointed but I'm proud of what my players have shown on the pitch.
"We lost a man (Franck Ribery through injury) in the first ten minutes, then had a penalty awarded against us and a player (Eric Abidal) got a red card. That was a turning point. In one match it's impossible to have so many catastrophes.
"I told the team I was proud to be their coach."
He said he had made a mistake in not identifying Euro 2008 as a means to developing his side for the process of qualifying for the next World Cup. "Everyone thought that the runners-up in the (2006) World Cup should make it to the finals of this Euro. I should have said six months ago that this competition would prove useful for a new generation to prepare for the next World Cup.
"This team has a real future. Look at what they did with only ten out on the pitch. They played well, were brave and generous and managed to pose problems for Italy.
"They were fighting, and not giving up. I loved them out there tonight."
"As Aime Jacquet (the former Frannce manager who led Les Bleus to the 1998 world title) said at the 1996 Euro, 'I'm preparing a team for the World Cup' - and that's a mistake we've made."
He reported that Ribery, who was stretchered off, had been taken to hospital with a suspected sprained knee.
One criticism of France here and at the FIFA World Cup in Germany has been their tendency to isolate themselves out of their fans' reach, but Domenech, who proposed to his girlfriend straight after the match had ended, denied this.
"We have been open at times, we've held public training sessions and the players have signed autographs.
"I consider it like the theatre. People don't need to go to rehearsals before watching a show."
As for his proposal he said: "Everything was so sad tonight. Life has beautiful moments, at difficult times in life you have to go back to the basics."
Tackled on his decision to drop veterans Lilian Thuram and Willy Sagnol from the defence he explained: "Consecutive matches can be complicated, especially when you reach a certain age.
"In our second game (the 4-1 loss to Holland) we had problems in this respect. It became obvious I had to bring on some fresh players."
With that he left, presumably to have a glass of champagne - to salute his players and toast his proposal of marriage.