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Domenech's job spared as France show patience

Despite France's dismal showing at Euro 2008 and their inauspicious start to the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign coach Raymond Domenech was given the green light to continue on Wednesday.

Domenech's position has come under increased scrutiny since the summer when he could only lead the former World and European champions to a last place finish in their group, and the 56-year-old appeared in danger of being sacked over the last few days.

But following Wednesday's meeting of the French Football Federation's federal council, Domenech has been told he will retain his position at least until 2010.

FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes confirmed the decision at the federation's headquarters in central Paris, with Domenech's mandate now being to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.

Escalettes called for ''the renewal of confidence in Raymond Domenech and to let him continue his mission to the 2010 World Cup'', adding: ''The France team hasn't had a great start to their qualification campaign. It is an adequate start. If we add in the friendly matches, the overall assessment is a lot more positive.''

France scored just one goal in three matches during the summer's European Championships, where they finished bottom of a pool that included Italy, Holland and Romania.

Following a friendly win in Sweden, Domenech's position looked untenable after the 3-1 defeat to Austria in France's first match of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

But Les Bleus reacted well by defeating Serbia 2-1 four days later and Domenech was praised for inspiring his side to come back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Romania in Constanta on Saturday.

That gave France four points from their first three group matches. The 3-1 friendly win over Tunisia on Tuesday gave him even more breathing space ahead of Wednesday's FFF meeting.

Escalettes continued: "What tipped the balance strongly in favour of Raymond Domenech was what happened in the second half in Romania. Something happened. The team did not give up. The coach knew what to say when it had to be said.

"There was a revolt and something happened. There is a unity among the players who want to go to the World Cup with their coach. It would be criminal to stop what we have started. An important step has been made in the reconstruction of this France team."

Domenech has had a difficult relationship with the media and some of his players, a number of whom have called for his resignation, though the current crop of Les Bleus have remained loyal to their coach.

Thierry Henry, who has captained France in recent games, said after the Romania match: "He is our coach, he has been there for a long time and he has experienced difficult moments. But we are with him. We played for him."

According to L'Equipe, 19 of the 20 FFF board members voted in favour of retaining Domenech in a secret vote at Wednesday's meeting. One member abstained.

Later on Wednesday Escalettes will meet with French president Nicolas Sarkozy who summoned the FFF president to talk about the atmosphere at Tuesday's friendly against Tunisia.

The crowd clearly favoured the visitors with fans from the country's large Tunisian population packing the Stade de France.

The French anthem was booed, as was Domenech's name when it was announced by the speaker before the game, and the France players were jeered every time they had the ball.


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