French Coach Deschamps plays down their chances against Nigeria
French coach Didier Deschamps has played down their chances against Nigeria by referring to the Super Eagles as a difficult opposition. (Photo: French coach Didier Deschamps)
Deschamps’ side will face the Super Eagles in the second round stage of the ongoing World Cup in Brazil in on Monday at Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional after the two teams qualified from their respective groups.
Nigeria finished as runners in group F despite losing their final group match to Argentina 3-2 last Wednesday in Porto Alegre with Lionel Messi and Ahmed Musa scoring a brace each for their respective teams.
France qualified as group E leaders with two victories and a draw against Ecuador in their last group match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro also last Wednesday.
“Nigeria are very strong and I think they are a solid team,” Coach Deschamps told journalists in response to a question asked by the author of this story.
The former France skipper added: “They can really defend well and it’s going to be a difficult match for us. We’ll have to fight.”
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi on his path said: “We have to prepare well for our next match against France because they are a very good team difficult to overcome.”
Nigeria will have to play the match without one of their forwards Michael Babatunde who has been ruled out to play any further part in the tournament after he suffered a broken hand during their clash with Argentina.
Coach Keshi confirmed during a post-match press conference that the 21-year old will have to undergo surgery.
France and Nigeria have only met once before with Super Eagles winning 1-0 in a friendly encounter in the French city of Saint-Etienne in 2009.
Nigeria were the first African side to progress to round 16 of the 2014 World Cup as Cameroon and Ivory Coast had already been eliminated before Super Eagles met Argentina.
It’s the third time Nigeria are crossing the group stage in five World Cup appearances after USA in 1994 and France in 1998.
Reflecting on their defeat to Argentina, Coach Keshi said: “We lost because we respected Argentina too much in the first half.”
“We were punished by Messi who is a different player, he’s from Jupiter. He’s blessed, and you can’t take it away from him.”
Meanwhile, Coach Deschamps says he would not stop any of his Muslim players from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
“We respect everybody’s religion, players have the habit to follow their religions and I’m not worried about any of my players who may want to fast during Ramadan.”
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Rio de Janeiro
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