Belarus coach Georgy Kondratiev has said that he expecting a tough FIFA World Cup™ qualifying clash with former winners France, hoping at best that his team puts up a good fight and the encounter spurs greater interest in the game at home.
"France are a very powerful team with top-class footballers," Kondratiev told AFP. "They are one of the world's top teams. They are currently much stronger team than the squad which we managed to beat in the previous qualifying campaign (for UEFA EURO 2012)."
Kondratiev said he was impressed with France's forwards, particularly Franck Ribery and Mathieu Valbuena, adding: "It will be really hard to oppose them on Tuesday. I hope that both teams will play classy football. The result will not hang over us and we just want to make our fans happy for a while, to bring them some joy."
Belarus are currently anchored to the bottom of Group I with just four points from six matches. However, Kondratiev, who played 284 matches and scored 92 goals in the Soviet league during his playing career, said improvement would be difficult without players gaining vital experience in bigger European leagues.
The manager, who led Belarus' U-21 team to third in the 2011 UEFA European U-21 Championship, has been set the task of revamping the national side and as such, results in the qualifying were immaterial in the longer term.
"I'm trying to bring new faces into the national squad but it's not easy at all," he said. "Frankly speaking Belarus cannot be named a true football country. People refuse to attend domestic league matches as they're not interesting at all. We should not deceive ourselves: we just need to change the situation in our football as soon as possible."