Didier Deschamps admits he is still haunted by France’s failure to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup ahead of their play-off with Ukraine.
The national coach was in the last France side that missed out on a place in the finals in the United States almost 20 years ago.
A late goal from Emil Kostadinov gave Bulgaria a dramatic victory in Paris that ensured they qualified instead of the French.
Deschamps is determined to ensure he avoids more heartbreak as he prepares his France side to take on Ukraine over two legs, with a place in next year’s tournament in Brazil at stake.
“It may have been 20 years ago but it still sticks in my mind. I don’t want to experience that again,” the 1998 World-Cup winner said of the defeat to Bulgaria.
“These matches are special because it’s not often you play an opponent twice in such quick succession. My staff and I will have to adapt in order to prepare for the games in the best possible way.”
France are fancied to go through over the two legs, but Deschamps has seen enough of Mykhaylo Fomenko’s side to know they should not be taken lightly.
“They are a very well-organised side, physical and aggressive. I attended and watched a lot of their matches during the past 12 months,” he added.
“The two most important players in the system are the wingers, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko, who play on the opposing flanks to their natural foot.”