Vieira left off French WC squad

Former French captain fails to make cut for World Cup squad.

    Coach Domenech said leaving Vieira off the squad was a difficult decision  [EPA]

    Veteran midfielder Patrick Vieira has failed to make the cut for France's 30-man provisional World Cup squad.

    Vieira, the former captain and a World Cup winner in 1998, joined Manchester City from Inter Milan in January in a bid to prove his fitness after struggling with injuries in recent seasons.

    But he will miss the chance to add to his 107 caps in South Africa, a decision coach Raymond Domenech said had been a difficult one.

    "We talked about this for a long time," Domenech said.

    "I had to judge him on the professional side. It is a very emotional decision."

    Vieira said he accepted Domenech's choice but admitted to feeling aggrieved that he had not been contacted personally.

    "I still feel in good shape. I'm not questioning this list. I respect his choice," Vieira said.

    "I would have accepted it more easily if he'd called me yesterday [Monday] rather than learning about it like that. That's what hurt."

    'Difficult year'

    Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was the other high-profile player left out of the squad, barely 10 months after his 35 million euro transfer from Lyon.

    "It's not definitively over for him with regard to the finals," Domenech, who stands down after France's final match at the finals, said.

    "One can call up anybody prior to the first match. He [Benzema] has talent but he has had a difficult year. I made a choice on some criteria that are not so evident but he is of an age where he can dream of better days ahead."

    But he said a recent scandal surrounding Benzema and an underage prostitute, which also included star playmaker Franck Ribery and another member of the squad Sidney Govou, had not played a role in his selections.

    "I am going to be frank: No. There was no doubt because of that: it is not one of my criteria, it is the quality of the players on the pitch and what they can give which counts.

    "As for the mocking press the affair has received, that is not my business. Me, I take care of the football side, that is sufficient, and that is a lot of work, I leave the rest of the stuff that concerns the players outside of football to the comedians, to the media.

    "I hope that we don't make anyone laugh during the World Cup."

    'Huge surprise'

    Striker Djibril Cisse received his first call-up since being cut from France's squad before the 2008 European Championship, after netting 29 goals this season for Greek champions Panathinaikos.

    There were also first call-ups for 25-year-old Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena and 28-year-old Bordeaux centre-back Marc Planus, and a surprise selection for 19-year-old Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila.

    "It's a surprise for me, a huge surprise," M'Vila, a France Under-21 international, told RTL.

    "Personally it's a dream to play at a World Cup. It's a big surprise to be in the 30. Why not make the 23?"

    Domenech announced his provisional squad live on French television, having earlier indicated that he would be naming his final 23-man squad for the June 11-July 11 tournament.

    The 30-man list will have to be trimmed to 23 by June 1, 10 days prior to France's opening match with Uruguay in Group A.

    Mexico and hosts South Africa are France's other group stage opponents.

    Provisional France squad:

    Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Mickael Landreau (Lille)

    Defenders: William Gallas (Arsenal/ENG), Eric Abidal (Barcelona/ESP), Bakary Sagna (Arsenal/ENG), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ENG), Rod Fanni (Rennes), Gael Clichy (Arsenal/ENG), Marc Planus (Bordeaux), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Adil Rami (Lille), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla/ESP)

    Midfielders: Abou Diaby (Arsenal/ENG), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux), Yann Mvila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ENG), Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon)

    Forwards: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea/ENG), Hatem Ben Arfa (Marseille), Jimmy Briand (Rennes), Djibril Cisse (Panathinaikos/GRE), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse), Sidney Govou (Lyon), Thierry Henry (Barcelona/ESP), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/GER), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)

    SOURCE: Agencies


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