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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
France pay for shortcomings
Fabien Barthez curses after Denmark score their second goal
France conceded three goals and scored none
France coach Roger Lemerre has said there are "no excuses" for his team's poor performance and that they did not deserve to qualify for the last 16.

France have put up the worst performance by defending champions in World Cup history after failing to score in three matches and finishing bottom of Group A.

"You have to tell it like it is... we failed to get to grips with this edition of the World Cup. We just weren't up to it," he said.

But he did add after France lost 2-0 to Denmark in their final match that France were penalised by the number of injuries to key players and that the squad was never at 100%.

Open Quote
You have to show up on the first day - if you can't do that then you're going to be in trouble
Close Quote
Roger Lemerre
France coach

"I must admit that even before the World Cup, we had a lot of little problems and bruises, we never were 100% and not in great health," he said.

France lost their inspirational playmaker Zinedine Zidane for the first two matches after he was injured in a warm-up game against South Korea.

The Real Madrid star, the most expensive player in the world, was drafted into the team against Denmark in desperation, but could not spark the revival for which Lemerre hoped.

France also lost central defender Frank Leboeuf to injury after the first game - although his selection had been criticised anyway because of his propensity to make errors.

Midfield star Robert Pires was never in the squad after picking up a knee ligament injury playing for English club Arsenal in March.

Lemerre added: "There's nothing to say - we don't deserve to qualify for the last 16.

Open Quote
We really didn't have any luck as far as scoring was concerned
Close Quote
Zinedine Zidane
France midfielder

"We still had a small chance (of qualifying) today. We tried to play to our full potential and I can't blame anyone in particular.

"We have to accept the defeat," Lemerre said.

He said that the problems had started with France's opening match 1-0 defeat to Senegal.

"You have to show up on the first day. If you can't do that then you're going to be in trouble.

"To tell you the truth here in Korea we had a lot of little knocks and bumps which meant that we were never really at 100%."

Lemerre, who has another two years on his contract to run, refused to be drawn on his future as France coach.

"That's not something that is on my mind," he said when asked if would continue.

"I've got a job that I've been doing for the past 30 years. I've always said it's the best job in the world. But today I just have to accept defeat as I would have done victory."

Zidane said: "We really never expected that, but football is all about the truth of what happens on the field. We could have done better.

"So many times, and especially this afternoon, a goal would have raised our spirits. That's what we were lacking because we had chances.

"We really didn't have any luck as far as that was concerned."


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DENMARK V FRANCE
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Full coverage:
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 SQUAD PROFILES
GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1




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