Paris, July 1 (IANS) England’s shock European football championship exit at the hands of Iceland was a “big slap in the face” for country’s football, according to France defender Bacary Sagna.
England would have played France in the quarter-finals this weekend if they came through the last-16 tie against smallest ever nation to feature at a European Championship.
But Lars Lagerback’s men were victorious in Nice and set up a meeting with France at the Stade de France on Sunday.
Ahead of the last-eight clash, Manchester City right-back Sagna admitted that England’s departure from the tournament was a big upset.
“It’s a shock, a shock for the country. A lot of people expected it to be France v England. They’ve got a big slap in the face. The criticism of the players is too much. They’ll get a new coach and try to manage the pressure better,” Sagna was quoted as saying by Sky Sports on Friday.
“I thought England would win because they have a young team with plenty of talent. 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.”
Sagna — who has won praise for convincing displays in the tournament — also added he was confident the Euro 2016 hosts 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. 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,” Sagna said.
“I’m not thinking about defeat. I’m not planning to go on holidays early. I want to go all the way.”