Sagnol keeps Georgia focussed ahead of finals debut against Turkey

June 18 – Georgia manager Willy Sagnol has warned his players to focus ahead of their tournament debut against Turkey in Group F in Dortmund today. 

Independent since 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia will participate in their maiden major finals after narrowly missing out on Euro 2020 three years ago.

The Georgians eliminated Greece from the penalty in the playoffs, causing a sense of euphoria that has Sagnol, a former France international and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich, worried.

“After the play-off final, it was a little difficult for some players to return to their daily routines, because it was as if they were living a dream,” said Sagnol at a news conference.

“This dream needs to end at a certain point and we need to focus again. We’ve been talking about this from the beginning of the camp. Now the players are ready to participate in this tournament and I can say that they are disciplined and mentally prepared.”

Georgia are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament but can take inspiration from Slovakia’s shock 1-0 win against Belgium on Monday.

Sagnol is looking to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia of Napoli, nicknamed ‘Kvaradonna’, to steer his side to greater heights over the next weeks in a group that also includes Euro 2016 winners Portugal and the Czech Republic.

“We are going to fight like never before,” said Georgia captain Guram Kashia, heeding the words of his manager. “This is not party time for us – we want to show we deserve to be here.”

Turkey will be strong favourites against a team that is not expected to get out of the group. Vincenzo Montella’s team will seek to banish memories of a dramatic first-round elimination at the last European Championship after the Turks had been touted as dark horses.

“It’s our first match, but it’s also Turkey’s first match, and I’m sure they are under more pressure than us,” said Sagnol.

“If you talk about the strengths of Turkey we could be here for a long time, because they have a lot of good players with great technical ability. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

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