Ronaldo to retain Portugal captaincy

MILAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Paulo Bento begins his reign as Portugal coach hoping to rescue their Euro 2012 qualification campaign with a win against Denmark while France and Russia's relatively new bosses also need to knock their teams into shape.

Portugal, who sacked Carlos Queiroz in the wake of his six-month suspension for insulting anti-doping agents before the World Cup, have just one point from their first two Group H games and host the second-placed Danes on Friday.

Former Sporting boss Bento, chosen after a bid to recruit Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho for two games failed, has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will remain as captain.

France coach Laurent Blanc is looking for a psychologist to end his team's malaise following their dismal World Cup under Raymond Domenech and a patchy start to Euro qualifying.

They welcome Group D rivals Romania on Saturday having lost at home to Belarus and won 2-0 in Bosnia last time out thanks to a superb opener from Karim Benzema, who is still not Blanc's favourite.

The striker turned up late for a morning meet-up at the training camp on Monday.

"I think that even if the meeting was at 2030, some would still be late," Blanc told reporters.

Fledgling Russia coach Dick Advocaat is without top striker Roman Pavlyuchenko with an ankle injury for Friday's game at leaders Ireland and Tuesday's trip to Macedonia.

Russia are third in Group B after a 1-0 home defeat by Slovakia in September and Advocaat has much work to do given he has made several changes to his squad.


Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, whose side sit top of Group C after two wins from two, also has new faces for Friday's visit to Northern Ireland and Tuesday's home game with Serbia.

Alberto Gilardino pulled out of the squad with injury so Lazio striker Sergio Floccari received a first call up while 33-year-old fullback Gianluca Zambrotta is back having thought his Italy career was over after their World Cup group stage exit.

"I was a bit surprised by the coach's call," Zambrotta, who has 97 caps, told reporters. "But after the World Cup I said I wasn't finished. I'm close to 100 caps and I want to reach the landmark."

Netherlands go to Moldova in Group E on Friday without midfielder Nigel de Jong, who was controversially dropped by coach Bert van Marwijk after he broke Hatem Ben Arfa's leg with a tackle in Manchester City's Premier League game against Newcastle United at the weekend.

Xabi Alonso, kicked in the chest by De Jong in July's World Cup final, is in holders Spain's squad for the Group I home game with Lithuania on Friday but fellow midfielders Xavi and Cesc Fabregas are part of a lengthy injury absentee list.

The Germans are also troubled by injury for the upcoming qualifiers with attack-minded Toni Kroos likely to play as a holding midfielder.

Germany, third in the World Cup, expect a fiery encounter in Berlin on Friday when they entertain Turkey and over 30,000 Turkish fans from the city's large immigrant community.

Both teams have six points from six so far in Group A.

Montenegro have a surprise 100 percent record too in Group G and they can steal a march on England by winning at home to Switzerland on Frid