France's FIFA World Cup™ fortunes lie with the players who feature against Mexico here on Thursday, said coach Raymond Domenech on the eve of the Group A match.
The 57-year-old, whose popularity has plummeted since he guided the French to the 2006 Final where they lost on penalties to Italy, said that the coaching staff had done their job. Now it was for the players to improve upon the opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay.
"I have come to accept those things that I cannot change," said Domenech, who steps down after the finals. "Whether it counts or not [in terms of the result], a French match is important. It is for the players to express themselves. No coach can play in their place. We the coaching staff have given them the essential advice so that they can express it out on the pitch in the most effective manner possible."
Domenech said that he hoped his strikers would react positively to having failed to score in the opening match. "I hope that aggravates them," said Domenech. "The main target for the strikers is to score, and if that [not scoring in the first match] annoys them, all the better. Strikers of this standard, of this quality, it is evident, at one moment or another they will score, it is their strength. We hope it will happen as quickly as possible."
Domenech said his players were raring to go against a Mexico side that drew 1-1 with hosts South Africa last Friday. "The team is already into the match, they are impatient, they weren't there yesterday, I hope they will be tomorrow," he said, before refusing to reveal when asked what state of mind they had been in on Tuesday.
Domenech refused to reveal whether Yoann Gourcuff would start or not. However, in the practice match on Wednesday the midfielder played with the second XI while Chelsea's Florent Malouda -- who didn't start the Uruguay match -- was alongside Franck Ribery in the opposing team. "I select a team with eleven players, who want to win, and with eleven others on the bench, because we are now 22 as we have lost a goalkeeper [third choice Cedric Carrasso who is out of the tournament injured]."
Pressed on Gourcuff having had a difficult week, Domenech once again played a straight bat. "If you ask me how each player's week has gone . . . we are not here to speak about the past, we are here to speak about the match against Mexico, I believe."
Domenech, who replaced Jacques Santini after UEFA EURO 2004, said that he was not worried about the forecast of the temperature being zero degrees on Thursday evening. "No, I am not afraid of the zero degrees, less scared of that than the greasy and heavy training pitch we had at Knysna [their training centre which was hit by torrential rain this week]," said Domenech.
The coach added that he had one message for the French supporters back in France. "The only message is the one the players give out on the pitch, words do not really do much for you on a pitch especially with the noise of the vuvuzelas. It is above all acts that count, that is what we are anticipating tomorrow [Thursday]."