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By ESPN Staff

Defiant Domenech won't rise to Richard Dunne's bait

Embattled France boss Raymond Domenech is in defiant mood ahead of his side's World Cup showdown with Republic of Ireland.

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He and his players landed on Irish soil with heavy rain providing as hostile a welcome as they can expect from an expectant home crowd when battle commences.

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

Domenech said: "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.

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

Domenech is under pressure because the French were expected to qualify automatically, but were edged out by Serbia. But asked if their presence in the play-offs represents success or failure, his reply was terse.

He said: "The objective is to qualify for the World Cup, so maybe I will answer the questions afterwards.''

Whatever happens, 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 pressure on Domenech's men. That night a lone Henry strike was enough to claim the points, although Domenech admits that will count for nothing this time around.

Asked if parallels can be drawn between the two games, he said: "Yes. 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, not the same conditions. You can compare both teams, but the context and the players have changed.''

Henry may have been the match-winner on that occasion, but he will happily surrender that title tomorrow night as long as it goes to one of his team-mates.

He said: "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.

"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. Whoever it can be, that will do for me.''

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 said: "He is recovering from his injury.'' Asked further if he fears Toulalan could miss both legs, he added: "No. I have other worries. There are 24 players and we must prepare for both matches. It is the team as a whole that matters.''


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