Tuesday June 06, 2023

France begin new era with Mbappe as captain

March 24, 2023

PARIS: Three months on from their agonising defeat in the World Cup final in Doha, France begin a new era with several veterans having retired and Kylian Mbappe handed the captain’s armband for their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

The aftermath of that loss on penalties to Argentina in Qatar has been turbulent, to say the least. Off the field, a series of scandals brought down veteran French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet but not before he had agreed a deal for coach Didier Deschamps to remain in his job until 2026.

Not everyone in France agreed with the decision to extend the reign of a coach who has been in charge since 2012, especially as Zinedine Zidane is seen as an ideal successor. On the pitch, the biggest name to bow out is goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who retired from international duty at the age of 36 and after over a decade as captain.

The Tottenham ‘keeper became France’s most-capped player during the World Cup and his departure left Deschamps needing a new goalkeeper as well as a new skipper. With long-term back-up goalkeeper Steve Mandanda also quitting, AC Milan’s Mike Maignan will take the gloves when France welcome the Netherlands to the Stade de France on Friday for their opening qualifier. There was never any doubt about that, but there was some doubt over who would become captain, with Antoine Griezmann a contender.