Berliner Tageblatt - Party time over for Georgia as Euros debut looms, says skipper Kashia

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Party time over for Georgia as Euros debut looms, says skipper Kashia
Party time over for Georgia as Euros debut looms, says skipper Kashia / Photo: © AFP/File

Party time over for Georgia as Euros debut looms, says skipper Kashia

Guram Kashia said Monday that his Georgia teammates need to put the joy of qualification for their country's first major international tournament behind them at Euro 2024.

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Georgia, who have not played at a World Cup or Euros since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, face Turkey in Group F on Tuesday evening.

"From the first meeting when we started the camp, we said that we have to leave these good feelings and emotions we had from the night we qualified because to still celebrate that moment is not right," Kashia told reporters.

"We're here and we want to compete and we're gonna fight like never for this. It's not party time or celebrations for us. We want to show that we deserve to be here."

March's penalty shoot-out win over Greece which sealed a trip to Germany, sparked a pitch invasion at the Boris Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi and an explosion of joy in Georgia, which has a population of just 3.7 million.

"I don't know if you have seen the video but I almost passed out from happiness," added Kashia, who plays his club football for Slovan Bratislava.

"It's always so, so special that you make your country proud of you and proud of what you have done. It was a great moment."

Georgia coach Willy Sagnol said that his players were "living a dream" after qualifying but that arriving in Germany has refocused their attention on a difficult group which also includes Portugal and the Czech Republic.

"It was a bit difficult at the start of the camp but the players are now ready for the competition, they're focused on their performance and their discipline," said former France international Sagnol.

Sagnol added that his star player Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has not been distracted by a row which has broken out over his future between his club Napoli and his agent Mamuka Jugeli.

Napoli said on Monday that Kvaratskhelia, who is under contract with the Serie A club until 2027, is not for sale after Jugeli told Georgian television channel Sport Imedi on Sunday that he wanted to move the winger "to a club which plays in the Champions League".

"From what I've seen since start of the camp he is smiling, he has a lot of motivation and for me that's the most important," said Sagnol.

"When you're a good player, like he is, you should never worry about your future, you should always know that things will come at the right time.

"Of course, up until now he has done a lot of good things but if he plays a very good European Championship his future might even be better. So if I were him I would just focus on what I'm doing on the pitch."

M.Odermatt--BTB