French soccer team stays upbeat

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET

CLAIREFONTAINE, France (AP) -- After its third draw in four games, France realizes it must start winning -- especially on the road -- if it is to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

"We are going to need some big performances away from home," striker Thierry Henry said.

After a 0-0 tied with Ireland at Stade de France on Saturday, France has five points from three games, tied with Switzerland, Ireland and Israel in Europe's World Cup qualifying Group 4.

And despite drawing in its two home games and labouring to a 2-0 victory at lightly regarded Faeroe Islands, players such as striker Djibril Cisse were "satisfied" with Saturday's result.

"It was encouraging, much better," Cisse told reporters Sunday at the team's Clairefontaine training camp, where France is preparing to play Cyprus on Wednesday.

"We are progressing. It's not nice when you don't win but I am confident. I know it will get better."

However, an inability to win either of its home games has many concerned about coach Raymond Domenech's team.

"We're not thinking too much about that," defender Gael Givet said. "All the contenders are on equal points.

"There is everything to play for."

On Wednesday, France travels to Nicosia for the game against Cyprus, the only team in Group 4 other than the Faeroe Islands that is without a victory.

Missing Patrick Vieira because of a suspension and Benoit Pedretti due to an injury, the center of France's midfield was weak and inexperienced against Ireland.

"We were a bit edgy," Domenech said. "We gave them too much possession."

Thankfully for Domenech, goalkeeper Fabien Barthez once again stood out, especially in denying Damien Duff at one point.

Domenech insists France is in a rebuilding process and there is no need to panic.

"We don't know when the work will be finished," Domenech said. "The team is moving forward, but at what speed?

"Will the cement stay in place? When you're dealing with human issues, it's not possible to program in advance."


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