France’s World Cup run is turning into a triumph for coach Didier Deschamps, who has won over those who felt he had stayed in charge too long and is within touching distance of another final.
Victory over England on Saturday means France now face Morocco in the last four on Wednesday, and whatever happens there, Deschamps will be free to decide if he wants to extend his 10-year spell in charge.
“The ball is in my court and I will decide. I will be here for the semi-final and then we’ll see. One thing at a time,” said Deschamps after fulfilling the objective set out for him by French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.
“The president is happy. Lots of people are happy. But I want to savour being back in the last four. I am thinking about Wednesday, not about other things.”
Deschamps was appointed in 2012 and some felt he should have bowed out on a high after France’s 2018 World Cup triumph.
What followed was a disappointing performance at Euro 2020, when they lost in the last 16 despite a return for Karim Benzema from the international wilderness.
With Zinedine Zidane available and seemingly ready to become France’s next coach, the World Cup in Qatar has arguably been Deschamps’ greatest challenge yet.
The holders appeared diminished by injuries coming into the tournament, deprived of starting midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante and then of Benzema before a ball had been kicked.
Many wondered if France would go the way of the past three reigning champions, Italy, Spain and Germany, who were all knocked out of the next World Cup in the group phase.
“We’ll admit that we had doubted Didier Deschamps a little bit. We wondered if he hadn’t stayed too long, if he still had his mojo,” said the daily Le Parisien in an editorial on Sunday.—AFP