Didier Deschamps believes France can go on to achieve great things at the World Cup Finals, after they overcome Ukraine to book their place in Brazil.
It looked bleak for Les Bleus when they lost the first leg of their qualifier 2-0 last Friday, but they bounced back in Paris courtesy of goals from Mamadou Sakho, Karim Benzema, and an own-goal from Oleg Gusev. If the latter can be considered fortunate, the goal which brought them parity in the tie can even more so due to the Real Madrid forward being at least a yard offside.
This though, was of no concern to the French as they celebrated booking a fifth successive appearance in the Finals. And coach Deschamps, who admitted before the match he was likely to resign if they bowed out to the Ukrainians, believes his players are now capable of going one better than they did in 2006 by repeating their sole success of 1998.
“Four days ago, we were in a bad position but the players were fantastic tonight,” the 45-year-old, who captained his country in that famous triumph 15 years ago, told French television. “I didn’t have doubts but we played a huge match and this qualification is very important for French football. It’s a bit of a tradition that when French teams have their backs against the wall, they perform and we had a lot of heart and determination. Now we’ve qualified, we’re capable of some great things.”
Elsewhere, Croatia ended Iceland’s hopes of becoming the smallest national to appear at the World Cup Finals when they recorded a 2-0 win in Zagreb to qualify by the same score on aggregate. After a 3-1 first leg win over Romania, Greece finished the job in Bucharest with a 1-1 draw which ensured a 4-2 aggregate win and progress to their third appearance in the Finals.