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Oct 21, 2013

France wary of Ukraine playoff draw

France coach Didier Deschamps has given a cautious welcome to the news that his side have been drawn against Ukraine in the World Cup playoffs.

• Delaney: Opportunity knocks

The French have never lost in seven matches against their upcoming opponents, having won four and drawn three of their previous meetings.

Just like four years ago against the Republic of Ireland, France will get to play the second leg at the Stade de France. 

"It won’t be easy," Deschamps told L’Equipe 21 TV. "They’re a team who have gone seven matches unbeaten and who concede very few goals. It’ll also be a long trip for us.

"But it’s a good thing to be at home in the second leg. We have to have confidence in ourselves but we should also have respect for our opponents, who will giving their all to take their chance."

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was happy to have avoided the one seeded team France really feared, instead drawing a team they beat 2-0 at last summer’s European Championships.

"Honestly, I would have preferred to avoid Portugal," he told BFM TV. "It’s already done so all the better. We know Ukraine. We played them several times and our last result against them was a good one at Euro 2012.

"We have to remain cautious because they’re a budding team with good players. But it’s doable.

"They’re a team with a good generation of players. Maybe they have less experience than us but they’re still very talented. We have to be wary of that.

"We’re going to have to approach these matches with lots of concentration and a lot of confidence. We have the means to go through. You have to put the pressure to one side – we’re capable of going through."

The French Football Federation’s President, Noel Le Graet, was happy with the outcome.

“Being at home in the second leg is satisfying,” he told L’Equipe 21. "It’s of interest, notably if there’s extra time. I’m pleased with this draw.

"They won’t be easy opponents because they’re ahead of us in the FIFA world rankings. They’ve done well but the French team is making progress."

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