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By ESPN Staff

Nantes start Ligue 2 campaign with 5-0 rout

NANTES, France, July 31 (Reuters) - Eight-times French champions Nantes started life as a Ligue 2 club for the first time in over four decades with a 5-0 rout, making clear they were determined to secure an immediate return to the top flight.

'We wanted to show the fans that the team have soul,' captain Frederic Da Rocha told reporters after Nantes crushed Reims on Monday.

Over 25,000 fans attended the match at the Beaujoire stadium and greeted their team's performance with rounds of Mexican waves.

'It wasn't bad but we must not get carried away,' Da Rocha added. 'We must do better still.'

The win came two days after the news that Polish-born businessman Waldemar Kita had bought the club from owner Serge Dassault.

Nantes were relegated at the end of last season after spending a record 44 consecutive years in the top flight.

For years Nantes were nurtured by a series of unpretentious father figures, but the club changed dramatically in 2004 when Dassault, the owner of an aviation and industrial company, took control.

For many Nantes lovers, the businessman and the leadership he put into place broke the club's rich traditions, which the fans believe led to the its decline.

Kita said one of his first moves would be to change the coach. The favourite to replace Michel Der Zakarian is former France striker Jean-Pierre Papin, without a club since leaving Racing Strasbourg at the end of last season after helping them return to Ligue 1.