We deserve to be in World Cup, declares defiant French boss Domenech

CONTROVERSIAL French coach Raymond Domenech remains unrepentant about his side’s controversial qualification for the World Cup as they prepare for tonight’s opener against Uruguay.

Domenech’s side only reached South Africa courtesy of a clear Thierry Henry handball to set up William Gallas in their play-off second leg against Ireland.

Domenech, however, rejected suggestions his team do not deserve to be in South Africa.

“We finished second in our group, we won the play-off – incidentally it was the same for Uruguay, who won their play-off,” he said ahead of tonight’s Group A clash at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium.

“Other teams won and qualified and there are 32 who qualified who deserved to qualify. That’s football.

“The people who are here deserve to be here and obviously somebody will win at the end and they will have deserved to have won and not others.”

Domenech admits the spirit within the camp is anything but “calm” – although he has played down reports of disunity.

Preparations have hampered by a friendly defeat by China and a petulant reaction from Gallas after being overlooked for the captaincy.

However, Domenech – who will be replaced by Laurent Blanc after the tournament – insists all is well with Les Bleus.

“I may seem calm,” he said. “However, underneath all that there is something of a storm going on. We need to manage that, the 23 of us are ready and determined.

“I don’t think the word we could use to describe the spirit in the team is calm. We are determined, we are ready, perhaps a little bit aggressive and impatient.

“Calm is not how I would describe the team spirit, I don’t think it is wrong saying that. We have a team which really wants to do something together. Not as individuals, which I think is the difference.”

Domenech expects midfielder Jeremy Toulalan and defender Eric Abidal to be fit after both were rested during the course of this week.

Meanwhile, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has rubbished his country’s reputation as hatchet men.

The recent South American qualification campaign saw them amass 48 bookings and four red cards in 18 games. Indeed, attacking midfielder Cristian Rodriguez was omitted from Tabarez’s squad as he is suspended for two matches following a dismissal in the final qualifier against Argentina.

“I think almost all of the squads (in qualifying) had a number of red and yellow cards. Some, in fact, have far more than we did,” he said.

“Some of them are also here in South Africa.

“I knew this question would be asked at some point. I expected it.

“Every time an important tournament comes up, we Uruguayans always get that question. I’m happy to say that on March 3 this year we went for a friendly in Switzerland. We won there and Switzerland, who are also here, were given five yellow cards and we were given none.”

Tabarez has already named his XI for the match, with the potent duo of Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan leading the line. Forlan was his only minor injury doubt with a leg injury but the Atletico Madrid striker has recovered in time to play.

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