Thuram to play on after meeting France coach

August 23, 2006

PARIS, Aug 23 (Reuters) - France defender Lilian Thuram is to continue playing for his country after holding talks with national coach Raymond Domenech.

Domenech spoke with Thuram, 34, and Claude Makelele, 33, in an effort to convince them to continue their international careers. He will unveil on Thursday his squad for France's first two European Championship qualifying matches.

France visit Georgia on Sept. 2 before hosting Italy at the Stade de France four days later in a rematch of the World Cup final.

'I'll be there to play against Georgia,' Thuram said on French television on Wednesday.

'I haven't had much choice. When I was in Guadeloupe and in Africa during the summer and even when we were in New York with my club, there was such a demand from the fans that I feel like I have to come back to thank them.

'My only doubt is whether I'm capable of playing for the two sides (Barcelona and France). I'm 34 and I play for one of the best club's in the world. I hope I can live up to the expectations,' he added.

No announcement has been made yet on Chelsea midfielder Makelele's international future.

Barcelona defender Thuram is France's most experienced player with a record 121 caps. Makelele has made 50 appearances for Les Bleus.

France lost to Italy on penalties in the World Cup final in Berlin on July 9.

Thuram, who shelved his international career after France's disappointing campaign at Euro 2004, returned in August 2005 to help his country qualify for the World Cup.

The squad will be announced at 1100 (0900 GMT) on Thursday.