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Sep 8, 2009

Under-fire Domenech to battle on with Les Bleus

Beleaguered France coach Raymond Domenech will continue to battle on as Les Bleus face a must-win clash with Group Seven leaders Serbia in Belgrade.

Domenech has the backing of French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, who already maintained the coach will keep his job even if the team - who are four points behind with three games left - have to go into the play-offs.

Thierry Henry, the Barcelona striker, has denied reports of a bust-up with Domenech, insisting the morale within the camp is still positive despite allowing Romania to leave Paris with a 1-1 draw at the weekend following an own goal by defender Julien Escude.

Even though the pressure is mounting, the France boss remains calm.

"The match in Belgrade will not be decisive,'' he said. "We will still have two more games to play, so we have a chance."

Henry, meanwhile, maintains the players must focus on the job in hand.

"I have been saying for a long time, there is a super atmosphere among our squad, but it's very difficult to relay such a message when you don't win games,'' he said on TF1. "The only thing we have to do is to qualify for the World Cup.''

Serbia, meanwhile, are looking on course to appear at their first World Cup finals as an independent nation. A draw on Wednesday would probably be good enough for Radomir Antic's side.

They have lost just once, against the French in Paris at the start of the qualification games during September last year. Five straight wins have followed since, albeit the last a less-than-convincing 2-0 victory in the Faroe Islands.

Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic, though, maintains France remain favourites. He said in L'Equipe: "Whatever happens, we will play against a good team on Wednesday.Of course, the French still have the pressure to get the result, but after France, we also play against Romania, so nothing is done in this group.''

Austria have an outside chance of capitalising on any more French slip-ups, as they will look to close the four-point gap when they travel to Bucharest. The other match sees whipping boys Faroe Islands host Lithuania in Toftir.

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