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France's target still one match away, says coach

Written by: Staff
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MUNICH, July 4 (Reuters) France's unexpected revival for a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup is not good enough for coach Raymond Domenech, whose sights are already set on the final.

Tomorrow's game against Portugal in Munich was just a step towards France's ultimate goal, Domenech told a news conference today.

''The objective is July 9,'' he said, naming the date of the Berlin final in which France would meet either hosts Germany or Italy.

''To get there we'll have to be competitive against Portugal.

We're approaching this game with humility but we're ready for it.'' The 1998 champions have hit top form after a sluggish start to the tournament and suggested they could go all the way with a masterful performance for a 1-0 win over champions Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Domenech dismissed a suggestion France might have played their final too early.

''It's natural to be proud of yourself after a great achievement but you have to move on straight away,'' he said.

''I don't think we should be regarded as the favourites.

Tags are something for the media. (Portugal coach) Luiz Felipe Scolari is the favourite for me because he won the World Cup (with Brazil in 2002).''

 France defender William Gallas, aware that past battles between the teams were marred by ugly scenes, notably in the Euro 2000 semi-final, said he feared Portugal's players might try to influence the referee.

''Portugal are very patient and will try to destabilise us,'' he said.

''It's true that they are able to do that, to upset their opponents with their style of play and with little fouls. We will need cool heads.

''They do like to dive. A lot will depend on the refereeing.'' Domenech, who has criticised the refereeing earlier in the tournament, continued: ''The most important thing to me and what we have to concentrate on is that Portugal are a superb team who can play great football.'' Domenech, who will not unveil his team until the last moment, is expected to stick to the one which shone against Brazil, a compact formation with Zinedine Zidane in a playmaking role and Thierry Henry alone up front.

Reuters

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