Strong Argentina side to face France

PARIS - Argentina coach Diego Maradona has vowed to pick his strongest side to face France in a friendly in Marseille next week.

Maradona, who took charge of the South American team three months ago, is set to have Barcelona's Leo Messi in his starting line-up in the February 11 game at the Stade Velodrome.

"Against France, we will have the possibility of gathering all the players I want. Those who were not there for the Scotland game (in November) will join us," Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup triumph in 1986, told French magazine France Football on Tuesday.

The former Argentina captain added that the France game would be the perfect way to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers.

"We will be able to field the team we plan to have against Venezuela in March, and then against Bolivia.

"It's the ideal team, the one any coach would dream of."

Argentina have failed to secure a major trophy since lifting the Copa America in 1993 but Maradona said he would make his players believe in themselves.

"I am certain that some coaches have not been able to make the players understand there was something mystical about the Argentina shirt," he said.

"And it is on that point I want to insist because myself and the staff, we have some finals under our belts.

"Our players don't play badly, I would even say this team play very well. What has to be corrected is the state of mind, the mental strength, the will to go all the way."