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 on Monday.
“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.”
The Tottenham goalkeeper also had praise for his Nigeria colleague Vincent Enyeama and insisted that France cannot afford to take the game against Stephen Keshi’s men lightly.
“I am not surprised by Enyeama’s good performances. He has had great season with Lille and is a decisive player for Nigeria.
“He is one of their top players, but 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.”
Lloris also had his say on the possibility of the game going to penalties and insisted that he will be ready for every scenario, although he is hopeful France can seal the deal in normal time.
“We are extremely well prepared for penalties. We have video footage and one more training [session] to practice [for that scenario]. Games are decided by small details at this stage.
“Before thinking about penalties, we must focus on regular playing time, though. We hope to decide game before it goes to spot kicks.”