Newly appointed coach of the French national team, Jacques Santini, will consult with his predecessors Aime Jacquet and Roger Lemerre before embarking upon his first challenge of taking France to the EURO 2004 finals.
“I’m thinking of all those whom I’m going to contact in the immediate future,” said Santani.
“The strategy of a new coach is to respect what has already been done. The first two people I’m going to contact will be Aime Jacquet and Roger Lemerre because they managed the French group well despite the bum note of the last few weeks at the World Cup.
“We need to rely on men of experience and I think that Aime and Roger are among these.”
“The main aim is to qualify for Euro 2004,” said Santani, who added that he would try to persuade several players to re-think their decision to quit international football in the wake of France’s embarrassing World Cup exit.
“Time is short and some internationals who werein Korea have indicated that they want to stop,’ he added. ‘Even these players I will try to contact them. To attack the qualifiers of a European championship, experience is important and these players have a lot of this.”
Santini, 50, who led Lyon to their first French league title last year succeeds Roger Lemerre who was sacked earlier this month after France’s dismal showing at the World Cup finals.
Claude Simonet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), echoed Santini’s sentiments about the EURO 2004 qualifying campaign.
“The goal is qualification for Euro 2004,’ said Simonet. ‘Non-qualification for Euro 2004 could call into question the completion of the contract.”
Santini edged out rival candidates such as Lemerre’s assistant Rene Girard, France’s under-21 coach Raymond Domenech, and ex-Japan manager Philippe Troussier. According to Simonet, it was Santini’s all-round experience that convinced the FFF to appoint the Lyon coach.
“I was won over by Santini’s willingness to get involved with the national team, his results on the pitch, where he was champion with Lyon, his past as a footballer and coach, with 450 matches in the top flight, his education and participation in training in both the federation and in life,” said Simonet.
Simonet also confirmed that Domenech will remain in charge of the French under-21 sqaud.
“Raymond Domenech, whom I have renewed his contract with the under-21s, has also an important mission to accomplish – qualify this youth team for the Olympic Games (2004 Athens).
“I would have needed a new coach. Domenech has still a long career ahead of him at the Federation,” added Simonet.
France are in the same EURO 2004 quallifying group as Slovenia, Israel, Cyprus and Malta.