FRANCE FAILURE INCREASES OUR PAIN; World Cup SOCCER

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Byline: Matt Holland IN SOUTH AFRICA

FRANCE have been the biggest disappointment at this World Cup. Sitting in the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Thursday night, watching the abysmal French performance, the level of frustration and annoyance at the manner of our elimination in Paris only increased.

Hunger. Desire. Team spirit. Pride. Everything that Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland would have brought to South Africa has been glaringly absent from the French players. Frustration only increases when you realise the talent within their squad. This is a team that contains Florent Malouda, Patrice Evra, Franck Ribery and Nicolas Anelka. They have the quality to reach the quarter-finals, at the very least.

It wasn't simply the attitude of their players that jarred against Mexico, though. Raymond Domenech's attitude was shocking, too.

The manager appeared to simply give up after the first Mexican goal. He just stood, leaning against the dug-out with an air of resignation for the remainder of the game.

He didn't even communicate with the players. It was as if he was saying to the team: 'you got yourselves into this mess, it is up to you to get yourselves out of it.' Never was there a clearer picture of a manager that has lost all authority over his team than Domenech in the second half on Thursday night.

One has to wonder what the French Federation were thinking in even allowing Domenech to bring the team to South Africa. He was leaving after the World Cup, anyway. Perhaps, in hindsight, they should have installed Laurent Blanc before the tournament. …