Sao Paulo: Youri Djorkaeff has first-hand experience of the ups and downs of international football.
He enjoyed memorable triumphs with France at the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship, but also endured great disappointment IN 2002, where Les Bleus finished rock bottom of their group, having secured just one point in a 0-0 draw with Uruguay.
A key member of the famous French side of 1998, then captained by current coach Didier Deschamps, Djorkaeff was impressed with the way in which Karim Benzema and Co secured their berth in the knockout stages.
“They’ve had a brilliant start, which hardly anyone expected. Before the tournament began, after their qualification against Ukraine, it was clear that the team was well-prepared.
“And little by little, they’re starting to build something solid. I think we’ve got a team with a real future, one that will compete well, focus on the task at hand and put in some delightful performances,” explained the 46-year-old Frenchman.
“Let’s leave predictions to the fans, though. France have to take one game at a time. The goal has to be to play well in the next match. But we’re on a good run, and we need to keep it going.”
Despite this renewed optimism, the ex-Inter Milan star was keen to point out that the competition has only just begun:
“When you get through your group, a whole new tournament starts, and with it comes a totally different kind of pressure. I’m not talking about what the media or fans will say. I’m talking about within the dressing room. A lot of pressure comes from players being aware that one loss sends them home. The real World Cup starts now.”