DUBLIN, June 18 – Irish newspapers gloated on Friday after France was left on the verge of World Cup defeat, seven months after a disputed Thierry Henry handball dashed Ireland's hopes of going to South Africa.
"Few will shed any tears at their current plight," commented the Irish Examiner after France’s 2-0 defeat by Mexico on Thursday left them on the verge of an early exit.
"To add to the delight of those of a bitter disposition, there was more than a hint of controversy about the second-half goal that put Mexico on the road to victory last night," it noted, referring to offside claims for their first goal.
Ireland was furious last November after a clear handball by striker Thierry Henry which set up what turned out to be the decisive goal in their World Cup play-off went unpunished.
France’s defeat by Mexico – after they struggled to a 0-0 draw against a 10-man Uruguay last week – has fuelled growing criticism of French coach Raymond Domenech.
"The result means Raymond Domenech’s side, who rarely looked up for the fight, face a second successive tournament (first round) exit after a disastrous Euro 2008 campaign," noted the Irish Independent.
"Even though he guided France to the final four years ago, the charge against Domenech is that, with the rich talent at his disposal, his team have gone backwards amid rumours of dressing room tension and lack of cohesion.
"Nothing illustrated that better than last night," it added.
The Irish Times commented that France was "threatened by an early exit after failing to halt Mexican wave".
"A point is all France deserve after two underwhelming displays, and though they could finish their group games with a victory over South Africa, the worry will be Mexico and Uruguay will draw," ending France’s hopes, it said.
"France gave up without much of a fight," it added.
France need to beat hosts South Africa – who like the French have just a point – convincingly next Tuesday and hope that Mexico and Uruguay – both of whom are on four points – don’t draw.