France era over, says Jacquet

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The Independent Online

Aime Jacquet, the World Cup-winning former France coach has declared that "the beautiful adventure" which saw Les Bleus dominate international football is over.

Aime Jacquet, the World Cup-winning former France coach has declared that "the beautiful adventure" which saw Les Bleus dominate international football is over.

The French side which drew 0-0 with the Republic of Ireland on Saturdaywere missing much of the élan with which their predecessors won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. They face a supposedly straightforward match in Cyprus tonight.

The draw with Ireland came after a goalless draw with Israel, also in Paris, and an unimpressive 2-0 win over the Faroe Islands. And Jacquet believes that, with Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Bixente Lizarazu retiring after a disappointing Euro 2004, their era of success could be over.

"We have been aware for a while that the beautiful adventure for French football is over," said Jacquet, who defended the current France coach Raymond Domenech. "The team's performance at the 2002 World Cup was a complete disaster, whereas the latest Euro confirmed the end of a cycle. It is in that context that we chose our new coach. Raymond Domenech has had to start from scratch after several key elements of the team decided to stop their international careers."

But Jacquet is convinced Domenech is the man to lead France back to the top. "Raymond has the personality and competence for the job, even if it was tough for him, as it would have been for any person who starts something new," he said. "His main problem is to create a new team. But he has the right players to succeed."

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