France go for youthful line-up

August 17, 2004

RENNES, France, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Coach Raymond Domenech has named an experimental team for France's friendly against Bosnia on Wednesday, their first since inspirational playmaker Zinedine Zidane ended his international career.

Domenech picked no less than four uncapped players, Monaco defenders Sebastien Squillaci and Patrice Evra, Olympique Lyon sweeper Eric Abidal and Girondins Bordeaux's Rio Mavuba.

They will play alongside Paris St Germain's Bernard Mendy, who has one cap, Marseille striker Peguy Luyindula, who has two, and PSG midfielder Jerome Rothen, with five.

Midfielder Benoit Pedretti and libero William Gallas have 15 and 20 caps respectively.

The most experienced players in the starting line-up are 33-year-old Marseille goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, who will captain the team, and Arsenal goal scorer Thierry Henry.

Since he took over from Jacques Santini in July, Domenech has made it clear he had little choice but to bank on youth to cope with the retirement of several key players like defenders Bixente Lizarazu and Lilian Thuram and captain Marcel Desailly.

It will be France's first match since their 1-0 defeat by Greece in the quarter-finals of the European championship in Portugal in June.

The 32-year-old Zidane decided last week to retire from the international game, saying it was time for him to leave his place to young players.

Team: Fabien Barthez; Bernard Mendy, William Gallas, Sebastien Squillaci, Patrice Evra; Eric Abidal, Rio Mavuba, Benoit Pedretti, Jerome Rothen; Thierry Henry, Peguy Luyindula.