France coach still in knots over World Cup defeat

9th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 9, 2006 (AFP) - Raymond Domenech admitted in an interview with l'Equipe on Thursday that July's World Cup final defeat to Italy still rankles the France coach.

PARIS, Nov 9, 2006 (AFP) - Raymond Domenech admitted in an interview with l'Equipe on Thursday that July's World Cup final defeat to Italy still rankles the France coach.

And four months on, he said he still cannot bear to watch any of the match, made infamous by former France captain Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Italy defender Marco Materazzi.

"Three or four weeks ago I was caught out. I wasn't expecting it, a channel showed the famous action (the headbutt)," said Domenech.

"I didn't want to watch. Otherwise I haven't seen anything, not even a single goal. I've put everything (videos of the game) in a bag and I've put the bag in a closet.

"I think that means that I haven't accepted it yet. I needed to accept it completely. But I think that will take years."

Domenech said future success may help in overcoming the pain he feels from that defeat in Berlin on July 9 but any future success will have to be achieved without talisman Zidane, who has now retired.

Since the final, the two men's paths have hardly crossed.

"We have bumped into each other and missed each other several times," said Domenech. "He has embarked on a new life that has nothing to do with me, but we will see each other some time, for sure."

The coach denied he held anything against Zidane for the act that deprived France of a vital component in the deciding penalty shoot-out.

Asked if he still blamed Zidane for defeat, Domenech was defensive.

"You can't say still," he insisted. "I have never said I blamed him. I blame everything that has happened since which has contributed to forgetting the French team's performance and even Italy's victory."

"But that is not against Zizou (Zidane). He cracked, he's human. It's inexplicable but it happens."

Domenech did have a pop at fellow French coaches Arsène Wenger of Arsenal and Lyon's Gérard Houllier, who both have criticised him in the media.

Both have several players in the French team.

Wenger is also a co-commentator on France matches for French television channel TF1.

"I think that's a strategic error," said Domenech. "How can he be objective when it is in his interests to see Titi (Thierry Henry) taken off at half time while France need him to play right to the end?"

"I have never thanked Gérard enough for what he enabled me to do: it's true it was him who brought me to the DTN (national team set-up). But that doesn't mean I have to accept his criticisms of the French team."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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