The pressure on coach Raymond Domenech is growing after an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Austria gave France the worst possible start to their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Domenech kept his job despite France’s disappointing showing at Euro 2008, but anything less than a victory against Serbia at Stade de France on Wednesday could end his reign.
“Qualification is achieved over a series of matches. There is one coming on Wednesday against Serbia and we will have to be ready, with will and determination,” Domenech said after the loss to Austria. “We will have to fight until the end.”
Defender Patrice Evra fears another defeat would seriously hurt the team’s chances of reaching a fourth straight World Cup in 2010.
“If we don’t beat Serbia, there will be doubts over our qualification,” Evra said.
Against Austria, two first-half goals from free kicks and a penalty conceded by Phillipe Mexes cancelled out a lone goal by Sidney Govo.
Mexes, dropped by Domenech for Euro 2008 and then recalled after veteran Lilian Thuram’s retirement, was at fault for all three goals.
“I think the penalty was very avoidable. It was more like playing rugby than football,” Mexes conceded. “These are the types of mistakes you cannot make at international level. I am a bit disgusted with the way things went.”
“I think we could have done better,” Mexes said. “On free kicks, you pick up the man, you mark him and make sure he doesn’t score.”
Domenech’s tactics were again exposed, as they were during Euro 2008 when France failed to respond after going a goal down – losing 4-1 to the Netherlands and 2-0 to Italy after drawing 0-0 against Romania.
French sports daily L’Equipe summed up the latest performance with a front-page headline that read “Defenseless.”