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 May 17, 2002 | 2100 IST

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Nothing but repeat victory will do: Lemerre

Anything other than a second straight World Cup triumph will be a failure for France, according to their coach Roger Lemerre.

"Winning the World Cup is a dream," Lemerre said on Friday. "And without a dream you can't be competitive. Any other result than the final victory will be considered like a setback."

Following their World Cup success on home soil in 1998, France won the 2000 European championships and the 2001 Confederations Cup.

The French team during trainingIf they retain the crown, France will emulate Brazil and Italy, the only two countries to win back-to-back World Cups, the Italians in 1934 and 1938 and the south Americans in 1958 and 1962.

"I've set the goal to go as far as we can. But I know that each of the 31 other teams have exactly the same goal which is normal," Lemerre said.

"We are the ones who currently hold the trophy but in the very first second of the (opening) match against Senegal we will be back like any other sides. It (the trophy) won't belong to us any more."

The French coach has warned against impatience, saying his players must take one step at a time, but team captain Marcel Desailly is looking further ahead.

"Obviously being eliminated in the quarter-finals or even the semifinals will be a great disappointment," Desailly said. "We are going for to defend our status. So it means we have to go to the very last match."


Although clearly among the tournament favourites, the France players are not taking anything for granted.

"In a World Cup finals, everything can happen," midfielder Alain Boghossian said. "We can lose our first three matches and be back home before we can realise what's going on."

Most of the French squad believe Argentina and Italy will be their main rivals.

"We are among the top three favourites with Argentina and Italy," AS Roma defender Vincent Candela said. "The Italians can go very far as they have a more easy path to the final.

"It's going to be much harder for us as we can face Argentina as soon as the second which would be terrible."

Argentina, who were unbeaten in qualifying, are in group F along with England, Sweden and Nigeria, while France face Senegal, Uruguay and Denmark.

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