Yekaterinburg (Russia) (AFP) – Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said his team will not be bullied by France in their World Cup clash on Thursday, but admitted: “We are not on their level anywhere”.
Peru need to beat the strongly fancied French in Yekaterinburg in their Group C encounter or face an early exit from Russia.
Gareca’s men were the better team in their World Cup opener against Denmark, but lost 1-0 after Christian Cueva ballooned his penalty over the bar.
Gareca said his side were hurting for the 48 hours after that barely deserved defeat, but have picked themselves up in the four days since and the Argentine vowed they will be no pushovers against Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Co.
“Of course we respect France, but no matter the circumstances, we are used to being the underdogs, we are used to living on the edge,” he said on Wednesday, refusing to be drawn if he will promote all-time leading goal-scorer Paolo Guerrero from the bench.
“We can beat any team, we have the tools to win and we know how to handle ourselves in this type of extreme situation.”
Asked if Peru, contesting their first World Cup since 1982, could rival the French in any department, Gareca was unusually honest.
“I do not know if we will be on the same level anywhere, to be honest,” he said.
“But we are continually improving and want to adapt to this high level as soon as possible.
“But something very important is that we stay true to ourselves and our style, and we believe that we can be a tough nut to crack for any team.
“We will not let France push us around.”