France coach Didier Deschamps said Tuesday he was excited by the challenge of moulding his young team into a true force after they qualified for next year’s World Cup.
The French were made to work hard by a lively Belarus team before clinching a 2-1 win at the Stade de France and avoiding the perilous playoff route for the second-placed European teams.
After a bright start at the Stade de France underlined by goals from Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, Les Bleus appeared to tire in the second half as the exertions of two matches in four days showed following a 1-0 win against Bulgaria in Sofia on Saturday.
“There was a bit of tiredness and fragility because a lot was at stake,” Deschamps said.
“This is a young team that has many qualities but is young all the same and we were facing an opponent which never gave up and played with intensity and speed.”
Deschamps said he fully recognised that France had made life difficult for themselves with baffling results like a goalless draw with Luxembourg.
“We didn’t control the matches,” he admitted. “I’m not deaf and blind, I can see that.”
With 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe the pick of the crop of an exciting young squad, Deschamps has a lot of material to work with.
“We can make progress in every area,” he said, pointing a finger at his leaky defence.
“We conceded six goals in 10 matches and we wasted chances we could have scored from.
“At the highest level you have to take those chances when it counts.” – Agence France-Presse