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Baxter hoping Khune brings the magic

South Africa
By ESPN Staff

France: Girondins make winning start to season

France coach Raymond Domenech has restored Patrick Vieira to the captaincy following the retirement of Zinedine Zidane.

Vieira skippered Les Bleus for eight matches during the previous retirement from international football of Zidane who was lured back in the autumn of 2005.

Following Zidane's retirement from all football after leading France to runners-up spot in the 2006 World Cup, Vieira has now been reinstated as skipper.

'It's logical,' Domenech told Telefoot on French TV channel TF1 as he confirmed that the former Arsenal player would once again don the armband.

Senegal-born Vieira, 30, recently moved to Inter Milan from Juventus following the Turin club's relegation for match-fixing.

Ironically he shares a birthday with 34-year-old Zidane and, like the three-times FIFA World Player of the Year, was one of six survivors in the 2006 World Cup squad from the France team that won the 1998 tournament on home soil.

Vieira returns to the captaincy with France facing a Euro 2008 `group of death' with world champions Italy and World Cup quarter-finalists Ukraine among their opponents.

Georgia, Lithuania, Scotland, and the Faroe Islands are the other Group B teams.

France's first match since their penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Italy in the World Cup final will be with Bosnia-Herzegovina on August 16 in Sarajevo in a friendly match.

Domenech was giving little away about his squad selection which will be unveiled on August 9.

'I will not pick a team based on their form at the moment but with the intention of preparing for the (Euro 2008) qualifying matches against Georgia and Italy,' he said.

However, he indicated the squad would be largely composed of World Cup players.

'It (the period of time) has been too short,' said Domenech. 'You can't just sweep everything aside like that.

'It's down to them (the younger players) to impose themselves little by little and then take their place as they need to. Revolutions never lead to much.'

Another point of interest will be whether Lyon goalkeeper Gregory Coupet is confirmed as the new number one in place of Fabien Barthez, but Domenech would not be drawn on the matter.

'The list will come on Wednesday,' he said. 'Be a little patient.

'I am waiting patiently and there are plenty of options and possibilities.'

Claude Makelele has once again retired from international football but 34-year-old defender Lilian Thuram, France's most capped player, has not yet confirmed whether he has played his last match for Les Bleus.

Domenech offered an olive branch to David Trezeguet who was sparingly used in the World Cup and whose penalty shoot-out miss in the final effectively handed the trophy to Italy.

Trezeguet will be playing Serie B football with Juve next season but Domenech said: 'He (Trezeguet) is compatible with the France team. He will be operational.

'He will score goals in the second division just as he has in the first. For a striker that's what is important.'