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Koscielny: France squad unaffected by external factors

Laurent Koscielny says the France players will be unaffected by external factors as they prepare to try and win Euro 2016 on home soil.

Former France international Eric Cantona caused an unwanted stir when he suggested the exclusion of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa from the squad by head coach Didier Deschamps was racially motivated.

Deschamps rejected the claims and has threatened to sue Cantona, in a flare-up of the animosity that has simmered between the two men since their time together in the national team during the late 1980s and 1990s.

Benzema was not considered by Deschamps under orders from the French Football Federation due to his alleged involvement in an attempt to blackmail international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

An impressive season with Nice in Ligue 1 was not enough to earn Ben Arfa, who has suffered from disciplinary problems in the past, a recall.

Despite the potential for distraction, Koscielny is adamant the squad will remain unaffected by any issues being played out in the media.

“It’s not a problem at all,” he told Omnisport.

“Some things might disturb us but others won’t and this hasn’t troubled us at all. We have a good group, we [get on] well together on [and] off the pitch. We know that this is our strength. We leave those negative things outside.”

According to the Arsenal centre-back, preparing to carry the hopes of the nation as tournament hosts has created a different mood in the camp from Les Bleus’ previous appearance at a major finals in Brazil two years ago.

“To have the opportunity to play this competition in France is very important and very exciting,” he said.

“We feel a bit of pressure from the fans and the media. It’s different from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where we could feel the fervour from the French people but it was nothing like what we can feel right now. 

“We’ve been to Biarritz, Nantes and Mets and we could feel the enthusiasm. Everyone is proud of the team and it’s added motivation for us.”

France open Euro 2016 against Romania in Paris on Friday.

Wed 8 Jun, 2016
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