French federation chiefs deny Domenech rift
French football chiefs yesterday tried to play down reports of a bust-up between the players and coach Raymond Domenech ahead of tomorrow's crucial World Cup qualifier in Serbia.
Les Bleus' hopes of automatic qualification for South Africa 2010 could rest on the outcome in Belgrade with the star-studded France squad knowing a defeat will mean top spot in Group Seven is no longer a possibility.
Domenech's side have been the architects of their own downfall with another sub-standard display resulting in a 1-1 draw against Romania at the Stade de France on Saturday.
The spirit in the camp has not been helped by revelations this morning of a pre-match row involving Domenech and his players, led by veteran striker Thierry Henry.
Le Parisien reported Domenech tried to spark a reaction from his players prior to the Romania game by questioning their hunger.
Henry is believed to have responded on behalf of the squad by stating the players were uninspired by training sessions before adding: "I have been in the France team for 12 years and never have I been in this situation. We do not know how to play, where to go, there is no organisation.
"There is no style, no guidance and no identity."
The French Football Federation (FFF) insist there is "no urgency" to speak about the matter but it is sure to pose further questions about Domenech's position which could become untenable anyway should the team not qualify.
FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes pledged his support to Domenech yesterday, stating: "I repeat: yes, yes, yes. I have to say it three times. He has the job of qualifying us for the World Cup.
"And I repeat that even if we have to go into the play-offs, it's still Raymond Domenech's job."
France have two injury worries for tomorrow's game with doubts over Julien Escude and Franck Ribery.
Defender Escude, who scored an own goal on Saturday, is least likely to play with Ribery's problem a continuation of a calf injury which has hampered his Bundesliga season with Bayern Munich.
Despite the French camp seeming in disarray, Serbia defender Nemanja Vidic claims the visitors are still favourites to claim all three points in midweek.
The Manchester United centre-half told L'Equipe that being four points ahead of France "does not change anything".
"We will play against a very good team. But the French are under pressure to get a result," he said.
"After this game we still have to play Romania. Nothing is settled in this group."