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Oct 13, 2008

Pressure eases on Domenech before job verdict

PARIS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - France coach Raymond Domenech is focussing on getting another good performance out of his team in Tuesday's friendly against Tunisia rather than worrying about the outcome of a midweek meeting that will decide his future.

Domenech, left in charge but told he needed results after France's shock group-stage exit from Euro 2008, will find out after a French Football Federation (FFF) meeting on Wednesday whether he is allowed to stay on.

"It's not my problem," Domenech told reporters on Monday when asked about the meeting. "The only thing that counts for me is that the team qualify for the World Cup."

France's fightback from two goals down for a 2-2 draw in Romania in a World Cup Group Seven qualifier on Saturday has made Domenech's position a lot more comfortable.

The abrasive Domenech, who had been criticised by FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes for communicating poorly, kept an uncharacteristically low profile and found the right words to motivate his troops at halftime.

More importantly, the 2006 World Cup runners-up played as a team with some clever moves sparked by exciting new playmaker Yoann Gourcuff and inspirational forward Franck Ribery, back after a long injury break.

The best way for Domenech to prepare for Wednesday's meeting would be a convincing performance from his team against Tunisia at the Stade de France.

Domenech, who has had a difficult relationship with some of his players and the media for years, received the backing of leading members of the side, starting with Ribery and forward Thierry Henry, the captain on Saturday.

"I won't say I don't care because it would be wrong but the thing that really matters to me is what they show on the pitch," Domenech said of the support from his players.

French media, who have criticised Domenech relentlessly since the Euro 2008 fiasco, are now predicting the controversial 56-year-old will escape the axe.

"It's looking good for Domenech," read Monday's front-page headline of sports daily L'Equipe.

France, fourth in Group Seven, two points behind leaders Serbia and Lithuania, still face a struggle to reach the 2010 finals in South Africa and need to solve the defensive problems that led them to concede six goals in three qualifiers.

Domenech, however, is in a resolutely confident mood.

"It's a certainty, we'll go all the way (to the finals)," he told reporters after the Romania match.

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