Embattled France boss Raymond Domenech was in defiant mood as he arrived in Dublin on Friday 13th November for his side's FIFA World Cup™ qualifying showdown with the Republic of Ireland.

And Domenech, sitting alongside skipper Thierry Henry at the press conference, was giving little away as he assessed Saturday night's first-leg play-off clash at Croke Park.

Aked for his reaction to comments from the Republic camp this week, with defender Richard Dunne less than complimentary in his assessment of the France coach, his reply was dismissive.

"That's not of my concern. I have to prepare the team for the match tomorrow. In fact, I have long since stopped listening to the press as otherwise I probably would have killed myself," said the former Lyon defender.

"I never speak about the opponents, I have enough problems with the French team. But I respect Ireland and I know they are a solid side."

The pressure has increased on Domenech after Les Bleus were beaten by Serbia in the race for an automatic passage to South Africa 2010.

"The objective is to qualify for the World Cup, so maybe I will answer the questions afterwards," he said, when asked if being involved in the play-offs represents success or failure.

Whatever happens on Saturday, the two sides will meet again at the Stade de France on Wednesday, although a repeat of their victory at Lansdowne Road in 2005 would help to ease the burden of expectation on Domenech's men.

That night a lone Henry strike was enough to claim the spoils, though Domenech dismissed the possibility of drawing meaningful parallels between the two games.

"Well, both Ireland and France are playing; they are playing in green, we are playing in blue, white and red. It's not the same players, nor the same conditions. You can compare both teams, but the context and the players have changed."

"I was maybe the difference on the scoreboard but we played the game we should have played as a team. Maybe it was not one of the best games you could have seen, but we came back home with the three points," said Henry of that 1-0 success.

"As always, it doesn't matter who scores. I did here, but that was four years ago, so it is quite a long time ago. I don't know what is going to happen but in these kind of games, always small details can make things happen and change the course of a game."

France left their base at Clairefontaine with a lingering doubt over Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan, who has an adductor muscle problem. However, Domenech, who is already without Franck Ribery, was neither ruling the 26-year-old in or out.

"He is recovering from his injury, but I have other worries. There are 24 players and we must prepare for both matches. It is the team as a whole that matters."