France boss Deschamps snaps at repeated Evra questions
PARIS (AP) - France coach Didier Deschamps lost his calm in a media conference Thursday when asked repeatedly about Patrice Evra's inclusion in his squad for the upcoming World Cup playoff against Ukraine.
Deschamps briefly snapped after yet another question as to whether it was wise to select Evra, who was recently reprimanded by Deschamps and the French Football Federation over acerbic comments he had made about football consultants in the French media.
''Do you seriously think your question belong in a press conference before a match?'' Deschamps said to one reporter who tried to make light of the situation. ''I'm quite a serious person. I don't want to get sidetracked.''
Deschamps recalled midfielder Rio Mavuba in an otherwise unchanged squad, rewarding the players for some fine recent form after scoring 13 goals in the last three games.
France plays in Kiev on Nov. 15 and the return leg is at Stade de France four days later.
''We have to concentrate over there, not be too relaxed and block out everything else that's happening around the team,'' Deschamps said.
Shortly after the conference started, Deschamps was asked why he picked Evra and initially tried to swat the issue away.
''I'm focused on the challenge ahead and so are my staff. There are many debates about a lot of subjects, but our attention should be focused on our objectives,'' Deschamps said. ''You're free to start your debates, I'll leave them to you. Patrice Evra was available and I took the decision to pick him. Everyone's free to write, talk.''
But the questions kept coming, and Deschamps finally hit back.
''I don't want to get involved in that, and the players won't be, either,'' Deschamps said. ''It's your debate, you can write what you want. I've made a sporting choice.''
Evra escaped punishment from the French Football Federation over his furious rant during a television interview.
During it, the Manchester United left back criticized commentators - including former France left back Bixente Lizarazu - calling them ''tramps'' and ''parasites'' and claiming they tried to turn public opinion against him.
Evra was France's captain during the 2010 World Cup when the team refused to train after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech. Evra got a five-game ban from the FFF.
Mavuba won the last of his nine caps in a World Cup qualifier against Belarus in September 2012.
''His form has been good, especially the last few weeks,'' Deschamps said.
Confidence is returning to the France team, with a morale-boosting 6-0 win against Australia followed by a clinical 3-0 win against Finland in the final qualifier.
However, Deschamps is still trying to determine his beset lineup.
''There are doubts over a maximum of two or three positions,'' he said.
Deschamps was asked if he would resign if France fails to qualify against Ukraine.
''Honestly, I haven't thought about that for one tenth of a second. I'm not thinking `If, if, if' and what will happen tomorrow, or the day after,'' he said. ''They are a seeded team and they are on a good run at the moment and don't concede many goals. We will have to defend well over there, but we're also going with a lot of ambition.''
Deschamps paid further credit to Ukraine, which pushed England all the way in qualifying.
''They're an organized team and they play with a lot of commitment,'' he said. ''They have two very good players on the flanks, and they play with a left-footer on the right, and a right-footer on the left.''
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia).
Defenders: Eric Abidal (Monaco), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle); Clement Grenier (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Rio Mavuba (Lille).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Loic Remy (Newcastle), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).
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