Domenech accepts favourites tag ahead of semi

July 3, 2006

France coach Raymond Domenech admits his team are now lumbered with the tag of favourites ahead of Wednesday's semi-final against Portugal who, among the four semi-finalists, are the only remaining team never to have won the World Cup.

Many pundits wrote off the French after they drew their first two Group G matches but victories over Spain in the last 16 and outgoing champions Brazil in the last eight have transformed perceptions of the French team which had basked in underdog status for those two games but who will be favourites against Luiz Felipe Scolari's team.

Asked what the main danger to his side was, Domenech said in remarks reported by L'Equipe: 'The opponents, Portugal.

'After that comes the rest - we have beaten the world champions Brazil so we will have a label (as favourites). We must try and overcome that.'

Domenech insisted any euphoria in France at the team's progress was not affecting the team and he admits he is trying to shut out the excitement being generated.

Asked about the euphoria he said: 'There has been none within the squad but from outside there has been.

'I've switched off my mobile phone. We get messages from everywhere and I don't switch on the TV because everyone is saying 'cock-a-doodle-doo'.

'I am trying to keep everything in perspective and we are going to try and keep a sense of reality. But to tell the truth we have done well to get to the semis and now we have more work to do.'