Former France international Alain Giresse has dismissed Northern Ireland as being “far too limited” ahead of their Euro 2016 campaign.
The current Mali manager, a three-time French player of the year who won 47 caps for his country, does not expect Michael O’Neill’s side to cause any shocks in his homeland over the next month when they come up against Group C rivals Germany, Ukraine and Poland.
The 63-year-old also claimed that, out of the 23 players in O’Neill’s squad, he only knows West Brom defender Jonny Evans.
He said: “Technically, they are far too limited. It would really be a huge surprise if they go through the first round.
“In their group, Germany should be widely above (the rest), and Poland and Ukraine both have better players than them.
“I hardly even know a Northern Ireland player, besides Jonny Evans, maybe.
“They will play with their usual and legendary fighting spirit, but I think it will not be enough.”
Earlier this week, former England striker Michael Owen had suggested Northern Ireland would prop up Group C by the end of the three games.
They begin their group campaign against Poland in Nice on Sunday before clashing with Ukraine in Lyon and then venturing to Paris for a fixture with world champions Germany.