Didier Deschamps will remain France coach until 2026 World Cup

Didier Deschamps will coach France until the 2026 World Cup after announcing on Saturday he had been given a four-year contract extension just weeks after his side were defeated by Argentina in the 2022 final.

Deschamps' previous contract expired after the World Cup in Qatar where defending champions France lost to Lionel Messi's Argentina in a penalty shootout after a thrilling final on December 18.

French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet reportedly only wanted to give Deschamps a two-year extension until the 2024 European Championship in Germany but the 54-year-old coach had insisted on staying in charge until the next World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The announcement ends that debate and will also nip in the bud speculation that Zinedine Zidane, a teammate of Deschamps in France's 1998 World Cup-winning side, could take over.

"I am going to announce something which for me is an immense pleasure, and that is that the president has decided to extend (my contract) until 2026," Deschamps said at the FFF general assembly.

"I thank the president for his constant support and his continued confidence in me," he added. "It is essential for the France team to function well."

Deschamps' influential assistant coach Guy Stephan also retains his job.

- Targeting Euro 2024 -

Deschamps, who starred for Marseille, Juventus and Chelsea in his playing career, captained France when they won their first World Cup in 1998 and became coach of the national team in 2012.

He guided France to the Euro 2016 final on home soil where they lost to Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and two years later led Les Bleus to glory at the World Cup in Russia, where they beat Croatia 4-2 in the final.

In Qatar, France overcame the loss through injury of world player of the year Karim Benzema just before the tournament to go on and reach the final.

In the climax, they fought back from 2-0 down to Argentina to bring the scores to 3-3 after extra time, thanks to a hat-trick from Kylian Mbappe. They lost the penalty shootout 4-2.

Deschamps' only real low point came when France were knocked out of Euro 2020 by Switzerland at the last 16 stage.

He is comfortably the longest-serving France coach in history, ahead of Michel Hidalgo who held the job from March 1976 to June 1984.

France will return to action on March 24 when they face the Netherlands at the Stade de France at the start of qualifying for Euro 2024. Winning that competition, after the disappointment on home soil in 2016, is his next aim.

"Everything is done in stages," Deschamps told a press conference after the meeting. "There are demands to get results and expectations are high for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers."

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