France's Cabaye warns teammates against getting too cocky in today?s tie with Nigeria
Brasilia: Yohan Cabaye has demanded that France not be “arrogant” when they face Nigeria today after an impressive World Cup campaign so far.
Didier Deschamps’ side needed a dramatic fightback to beat Ukraine in a play-off in order to secure their place in the finals in Brazil, but they breezed into the Last 16 as Group E winners and are brimming with confidence ahead of their showdown against the African nation.
France’s players run during a training session in Brasilia yesterday. PIC/AFP
However, while Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Cabaye has taken great heart from their performances in the tournament so far, he reacted to talk of France being potential World Cup winners with caution.
“We have come a long way considering we almost didn’t make it to Brazil, so we should not get ahead of ourselves,” Cabaye told Fifa.com.
“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.
“We are bidding to progress on Monday and go as far as possible but we must do that with the same mentality, determination and quality we have shown so far.
“We are going to play a very good team and if we lose we must accept that. There is little use in putting extra pressure on ourselves and adding weight to our expectations.
“It is good to be ambitious but winning the World Cup is not easy as one can see by the good teams that have already been eliminated. I respect Nigeria, though we can beat them, but to say we are going to win the World Cup one has to be careful. There is still a long way to go.”
France’s Yohan Cabaye
Meanwhile, Cabaye’s teammate and France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris says his team are keen to emulate the generation that won the World Cup on home soil in 1998.
Didier Deschamps’ men impressed during the group stages with free-scoring wins over Honduras and Switzerland and they are brimming with ambition ahead of their Round -of-16 match against Nigeria at the Estadio Mane Garrincha today. “Of course France 1998 are an inspiration to us,” Lloris told reporters.
“The team of ’98 is a reference for all France players and for future generations. I grew up watching them achieve wonderful things. They really are an inspiration to us.”
‘Nigeria are very solid’
The goalkeeper also insisted that France cannot afford to take the game against Stephen Keshi’s men lightly. “Nigeria in general are a very solid team. We expect a difficult game, but we will do our utmost to reach the quarter-finals.
“Nigeria’s strong collective is their biggest strength. They have plenty of attacking skills and are physically strong. They can appear in front of goal with just one or two passes. We have to stay alert right until the end.”