It took 20 seconds to shatter the France’s march to the 1994 World Cup. In the 90′ minute Emil Kostadinov lashed a ball past Bernard Lama to win the game for Bulgaria, 2-1 and shatter French hopes for qualifying for the 1994 World Cup. David Ginola could have run out the clock but his errant cross led to the Kostadinov disaster. After the match, Bulgarian talisman, Hristo Stoichkov shared his thoughts on the match:
“And to think that a month ago we thought we were out. The French were so scared they played with their buttocks clenched. We knew that’s how they would be and our tactics were based on that. They played for a draw and never went looking for the win. They didn’t deserve to qualify and we hit them where it hurt the most.”
This thought consumes France on the eve of the Ireland encounter. Raymond Domenech says that Les Bleus will play for a victory. He does not want to go to the penalty shootout because the French have a terrible record. Who scores first is critical because in the Domenech era, France have never lost in 90 or 120 minutes when they open the scoring. In contrast, when they give up a goal their recuperative powers have been weak. Three wins, five draws, and ten losses.
Gerard Houllier, the French manager in 1993 resigned following that match. It is fair to say that Domenech, who has escaped a number of times before might not be able to escape this one if France loses.