France fail to fire, draw with Tunisia in World Cup warm-up

RADES, Tunisia (AFP) – France's preparations for the World Cup suffered a reality check here on Sunday when the 2006 finalists had to come from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw against non-South Africa-bound Tunisia.

France turned up in Rades on the back of Wednesday's confidence-boosting 2-1 win over Costa Rica in Lens.

As at Lens France's top scorer Thierry Henry found himself on the bench with manager Raymond Domenech preferring to start Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka.

French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan (R) vies for the ball with Tunisia's Masakni Youssef during the friendly football match Tunisia vs France in Rades. AFP photo

Hugo Lloris was back in goal after having ceded his place to Steve Mandanda who failed to advertise his claims against Costa Rica.

The rest of the side was the same as Domenech stuck with his new 4-3-3 formation.

The match was a personal milestone for Domenech, who drew level with former manager Michel Hidalgo's record of 75 matches in charge of the national side.

The 58-year-old Domenech, who succeeded Jacques Santini after Euro 2004, is stepping down to be replaced by Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc after the World Cup.

France failed to assert as they had done last Wednesday and were behind by as early as the sixth minute when lax defending resulted in Isaam Jemaa tapping in past Lloris.

Tunisia had the French backline on the rack two minutes later when Ben Khalfallah charged goalbound unchallenged down the centre in a one-on-one with Lloris but the danger petered out after he elected to pass to his left with the move petering out.

France, notably with a searing shot from Franck Ribery which skimmed just wide of the near post, had their chances but went into the break trailing.

Domenech tinkered with his second half cast list, introducing Henry on the left and debutant Marc Planus for Ribery and Eric Abidal.

France got their much sought after leveller in the 62nd minute when William Gallas headed in Yoann Gourcuff's floating 30m freekick from close range, a welcome fillip for central defender Gallas who is back in World Cup contention after a calf injury.

The Arsenal back and Gourcuff were two of the few bright points of France's performance.

France have one remaining warm-up, against China in Reunion on Friday, before their World Cup campaign opens on June 11 against Uruguay.

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