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By ESPN Staff

French coach Domenech defiant despite defeat

France coach Raymond Domenech refused to press the panic button after seeing his side sink to a 3-1 defeat to Austria in their opening World Cup qualifying match.

Domenech was fortunate to survive the axe following Les Bleus' dismal Euro 2008 campaign this summer, and there is speculation he was given a minimum points requirement from the French Football Federation (FFF) of five from the first three qualifiers.

He can now only get a maximum of six points, the Austrians making the most of France's defensive vulnerabilities in Vienna to score two goals from set-pieces in the first half and another from the penalty spot following a clumsy tackle by centre-half Philippe Mexes.

The pressure will therefore be intense on Wednesday when the French host Serbia in Paris, with Domenech's job feasibly on the line.

But he came out fighting, saying: "Qualification plays itself out in a series of matches.

"There is one which is coming up on Wednesday against Serbia and we must be ready, with desire and determination to continue on this course of qualification.

"Nobody said it would be easy, especially not me."

He added: "I don't know what it means, 'in danger'. We must fight until the end, we know that.

"This team is younger, there are battles to have and we must get to the right level.

"But I am not worried for the France team. We still have matches to play. We have time to worry afterwards."

Domenech was given backing by FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, who said: Raymond Domenech is the coach of the France team and he has set off with the challenge to secure qualification for France.

"It has started badly; let's hope it finishes well."

Roma defender Mexes, a newcomer to the team following Lilian Thuram's retirement, had a particularly difficult evening at the Ernst Happel Stadion and was at fault for two of the goals.

"It was painful at the end of the match," he said.

"It's part of the job, you have days where it doesn't go so well and you go through experiences like this.

"But I am not going to let it beat me. I know I made two avoidable errors but my head is still up high.

"I know what I did wrong."

Manchester United left-back Evra is already labelling the Serbia match at the Stade de France a must-win game.

"If we don't win against Serbia, there will be doubts about our qualification," he said.

"At the moment, there is anger and frustration."

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