January 28, 2019 / 2:41 PM / 6 months ago

Sala's former Nantes team mates will struggle to keep focus, admits coach

FILE PHOTO: Vahid Halilhodzic, who was fired from his position as Japan national soccer team head coach, attends a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

(Reuters) - Emotions will run high when Nantes take on Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Wednesday in what will be their first game since former team mate Emiliano Sala went missing, but the Canaries will focus on the job, coach Vahid Halilhodzic said on Monday.

Argentine striker Sala, who had just joined Cardiff City from Nantes, has been missing since the plane he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel last Monday.

A three-day search for the forward and pilot David Ibbotson ended last Thursday after rescuers said there was little chance anyone aboard the single-engine aircraft had survived.

“You need some character to go through this month of January. That is why I have asked for a sacred union, so that the club emerges stronger,” Halilhodzic told a news conference.

The club’s official Twitter account is now carrying the #PlayForSala hashtag, replacing the #PrayForSala hashtag that was posted last week.

“The fans are expecting us to fight and win. Of course it will be emotional. We will have to channel our emotions and focus solely on the sporting aspect,” Halilhodzic added.

Nantes are 15th in the standings on 23 points, five points above the relegation zone.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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