France coach Raymond Domenech moved on Saturday to try and diffuse the controversy surrounding his refusal to send France player of the year Karim Benzema on during the 4-1 humiliation by Holland in their Euro 2008 Group C clash.
To some consternation Domenech opted to send on Nicolas Anelka and then more controversially the inexperienced Bafetimbi Gomis – winning his fourth cap – during the second-half while 12-times capped Benzema kicked his heels on the bench.
“I wanted someone who would keep the Dutch deep and bring into play more the three players in the centre of the pitch and offered us more movement all round,” explained Domenech.
“It was a question of managing the squad, of young players and of organisation, of what we could put in play to upset our opponents rhythm.
“I am not saying that I am always right.
“If one tots up Karim's total time of play (78 minutes against Romania, 0 against Holland), he is not the one who has played the least amount of time (Gomis has played 18 minutes against Romania, 30 against the Dutch).
“We are talking about managing players. We have to take care of young players in difficult positions, to blend them in is part of the championships.”
While Benzema hardly shone in the opening 0-0 draw, no-one really did, and Gomis has rarely threatened to replicate the form of his debut when the 'Panther' scored a brace against Ecuador to become the first Frenchman since the great Zinedine Zidane to do so on his debut.
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