Didier Deschamps’ side face a two-legged play-off showdown with Ukraine – the first game taking place on Friday evening in Kiev with the second next Tuesday at the Stade de France – with a golden ticket on the plane to Brazil the prize for the winning nation.
France successfully negotiated their way out of a tough qualifying group which included eventual winners Spain, with opponents Ukraine having finished second behind England in Group H.
And in the knowledge that one final push is needed over the two games to secure their place in next year’s finals, goalkeeper Hugo – his nation’s captain – says victory at this do-or-die stage of the competition is vital.
“It’s important for the whole country to get qualification for the next World Cup,” said our 26-year-old goalkeeper.
“We’re going to have two tough games against a good team and it’s never easy because everybody will be under pressure.
“It’s a very good test for everybody but the main thing is to get the qualification.”
Hugo is also confident that his nation’s squad has the strength required to come through what promises to be a gruelling double-header against a Ukraine side which held England to two draws in the group stage of qualifying.
“All the players will be at 100 per cent for the country and we hope to do a good job – the best possible,” enthused Hugo.
“We know that they should be hard games but we have the quality to make the grade.”