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Les Bleus set for overhaul

sports Updated: Jun 18, 2008 22:31 IST

France's misfiring squad is due to undergo a major overhaul as the fallen footballing superpower looks to put the nightmare of Euro 2008 behind it and prepare for the 2010 World Cup.

Bruised and battered Les Bleus endured a truly wretched tournament, which ended on Tuesday with their elimination as Group C also-rans with just one point and one goal.

Hardly a satisfactory harvest for a team that made it to the 2006 World Cup final, won the 2003 Confederations Cup, were crowned European champions in 2000, and won the 1998 World Cup.

It may be full summer, although you wouldn’t know it with the rain and chilly temperatures here, but a spring clean is in the air, and it’s likely to be a revamped France that sets out on the road to qualifying for South Africa this September.

Dark clouds hover over coach Raymond Domenech, who took over the reins from Jacques Santini after Euro 2004 and did remarkably well to guide Patrick Vieira and the others to the 2006 World Cup final.

But despite holding a contract until the World Cup time all the signs are that the curtain is about to fall on this theatre buff’s’ career as national manager.

His boss, French football federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, speaking before the knock-out blow in Zurich, commented: “I am not a disloyal man, I will not utter those words ‘Raymond, resign’.

“I am for him staying till 2010.

“But it is also true that other things may come into play which will have to be taken into consideration.”

Domenech himself, when tackled on the matter after Tuesday’s defeat, replied: “I am not asking myself that question, as it is a political problem.

“This team has a future, it has a real plan, there are young players coming through, there is something really interesting to do.

Thuram, Makelele retire

Veteran France internationals Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele confirmed their international retirement soon after the team’s first round exit.

Others such as Patrick Vieira and goalkeeper Gregory Coupet are thought to be considering retiring while even France's record goalscorer with 45 goals, Thierry Henry is thought also to be contemplating, even, though, he is still comparatively young at 30.