France prepare for World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:07 IST

France entertain the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

France prepare for World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland

Paris:

France entertain the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. Raymond Domenech's side have made a far from impressive start to their campaign, but a win could see the team move to the top of the group four standings. With Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu and Claude Makelele all now retired from international football, "Les Bleus" are no longer the feared side of recent years. Domenech is in the process of rebuilding a team that has struggled to match the skill and passion that led to World Cup success in 1998 and a European Championship title in 2000. Established players such as Thierry Henry, Mickael Silvestre and Robert Pires remain, but a host of new faces are being introduced into the team. Gael Givet and Sebastien Squillaci helped Monaco reach the final of the Champions League last season and the club colleagues will look to form a formidable partnership in central defence on Saturday. Elsewhere, Bordeaux's Rio Antonio Mavuba will earn his second cap, replacing the suspended Patrick Vieira in central midfield. France are certain to miss their inspirational midfield general, and strikers David Trezeguet and Ludovic Giuly will also be absent as they are both currently injured. There are no such worries for the visitors, whose striker Robbie Keane will be hoping to break the country's goalscoring record by netting his 22nd goal for Ireland. (AP)

Topics : Football
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