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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 09:04, July 07, 2006
Domenech: France, Italy achieved best Cup feats
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France and Italy, who meet in the World Cup final on Sunday, have already achieved the two best feats at the tournament, said French coach Raymond Domenech.

"There were two achievements during this tournament, it was our success over Brazil because that was something that not anybody can do," Domenech said after France defeated Portugal 1-0 in Wednesday's semi-final match.

"The other great moment was the win of the Italians over the Germans yesterday (Tuesday) in Dortmund because they did it in style. Hats off and bravo to them," he said.

France defeated holders and five-times winners Brazil 1-0 in the quarter-finals, Thierry Henry netting the winner just before the hour.

Italy ended hosts Germany's run with two late goals in extra time on Tuesday for a 2-0 semi-final success.

"We are very proud of what we have achieved so far and I can say that I'm personally highly proud of my players," Domenech said.

"But now we have a last match to play and our goal is to win this final. I have often said that our goal was to be in Berlin on July 9 but now I can tell you that we want to be there to celebrate."

Domenech praised his side for withstanding some intense Portugal pressure, particularly in the second half. France held firm for victory with Zinedine Zidane's penalty on 33 minutes proving decisive.

"They proved tonight that they are capable of suffering. It was certainly the toughest match we have played since the start of the tournament," added the coach.

"The guys refused to give anything up and the defence was outstanding. When you see what they have done tonight, you can only be happy.

"Now, we will have to try to recover physically because we used up a lot of energy in tonight's game."

Domenech confirmed that the Berlin final will be the last of playmaker Zidane's glittering career. The 34-year-old said before the finals that he would bow out when France did.

"It's going to be his last match. It's now for sure.

"I'm certain it makes him even happier. It was the way he wanted to leave. I'm simply happy for him."

Farewell final

Another age-defying display by the 34-year-old midfield maestro in Wednesday's game secured him and France one more night of glory - and a chance to repeat their 1998 triumph on home soil.

Yet, typically, after a display that mixed gritty defending and sheer industry with moments of vision and great skill, he departed the Allianz Arena without comment, leaving Domenech and the memories of another fine performance to do his talking for him.

"Yes, it will be the last one for him, the end," said Domenech. "But it is not what he is thinking about. This is not all about Zinedine Zidane's last game - it is the World Cup final against Italy.

"We don't want things to be mixed up. Yes, it will be the end for Zidane, but so it will for some other players. But this is the World Cup and it will be special to play against Italy.

"That is what is on his mind. And we want to go there to win. It is the same for the others - for Thuram, for Makelele and for the rest. I said our objective was July 9, but not just that - we want to win the cup."

Zidane scored his 30th goal for France in his 107th appearance against Portugal, driving home the penalty after 33 minutes that settled the match.

Asked what he felt Zidane had contributed to French football in his illustrious career that has seen France win the World Cup in 1998 and the 2000 European Championship, Domenech said: "He is a world champion. He is a real star. His photograph is up on a big wall in Marseille.

"He means so much to the French people, he gives them something to cheer and he has done that now for 10 years. And we hope there will be another day to come on Sunday."

Source: China Daily


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