BRASÍLIA (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps said Sunday he has had words with players in the squad who have put Les Bleus among the favourites to win the World Cup.
The coach is anxious to play down expectations, insisting that he is concentrating on Monday’s last 16 game against Nigeria. Bacary Sagna and Morgan Schneiderlin have said though that France should win the tournament.
“I have not had to manage anything. I have perhaps had exchanges with the players concerned,” Deschamps said.
“To be ambitious is very good, but to look any further than Nigeria does no one any good,” the coach added.
France impressed with a 3-0 and 5-2 win over Honduras and Switzerland respectively in Group E. But they were also held 0-0 by Ecuador.
Sagna and Schneiderlin, though, went further than other members of the squad with their comments on France’s chances.
“We aspire to winning trophies. For me it will be a failure if we do not win” the World Cup, Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna said Friday.
Southampton midfielder Schneiderlin, who is being linked to a move to Arsenal, told Le Parisien newspaper “to be honest, the main objective of the players is to win the World Cup.”
Midfield counterpart Yohan Cabaye has also called his teammates not to “get ahead of ourselves.”
“The fact we showed our quality in the group stage obviously should make us more confident but not arrogant, otherwise we are going to have major problems,” said the Paris St Germain star.
Deschamps said that France can no longer afford to make any mistakes as the tournament plunges into knockout games.
“Its not like in the groups where you can catch up. The sanction comes at the end of the game,” declared the coach.
“We prepare them just as seriously, but at the end you stay or you don’t stay.”
Deschamps said that Nigeria have a “powerful and fast” attack and “solid” defence, but gave nothing away about France’s tactics for Monday’s match.
The heat of Fortaleza, where the match will start at 1:00pm local time, will hit both sides as many of the Nigerians play in Europe, the French boss said. “I don’t know how the organism will react during the match.”