France right back Bacary Sagna said he could not imagine the host nation would suffer the same fate as England when they face surprise packages Iceland on Sunday for a place in the European Championship semi-finals.(RESULTS | STANDINGS)
“I’m not thinking about defeat,” Sagna told a news conference at France’s training camp outside Paris on Friday. “I’m not planning to go on holidays early. I want to go all the way.”
Sagna, who has played his club football in England for nearly a decade with Arsenal and now Manchester City, said he had been surprised by England’s shock 2-1 defeat by Iceland in the round of 16.
“I thought England would win because they have a young team with plenty of talent,” he said. “On the other hand, I was quite happy for Iceland because they played really well. They taught England a lesson and deserve to be where they are.”
The 33-year-old, who has won praise for convincing displays in the tournament, said he was confident Les Bleus would survive Sunday’s tricky test at the Stade de France.
“We certainly do not underestimate Iceland but we belong to the best sides in Europe, we’re among the favourites and we’re at home,” he said.
READ: Standings, Group stage classification
“We have a status to live up to. When we see how the people in the fan zones celebrate when we score a goal, it warms our hearts. We just can’t let them down.”
French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet has set a place in the last four as the goal for the host nation, meaning Sunday’s match will determine whether the tournament is a success or a failure for Les Blues.
“I don’t agree,” Sagna said. “To me, bowing out in the semi-finals would still be a failure. We all know what we’re here for”.
France, who started their earlier games in the finals in sluggish fashion, often needing late rallies to prevail, must make sure they are focused from the kickoff against Iceland, Sagna said.
“We must not wait until halftime to wake up because that might be too late,” he said. “We must be fully concentrated from the start. I’m sure we will be. I’m not worried.”