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Mbappé magnificent as France thrill against outclassed Bafana in Lille

Kylian Mbappe of France fires in a shot in the international friendly against Bafana Bafana at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France on March 29 2022.
Kylian Mbappe of France fires in a shot in the international friendly against Bafana Bafana at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France on March 29 2022.
Image: David Winter/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

A Kylian Mbappé-inspired France powered past an outclassed Bafana Bafana 5-0 in Tuesday night’s international friendly at a packed Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.

Magnificent Mbappé’s strike in the 23rd minute and penalty in the 76th; Olivier Giroud’s goal in the 33rd, Wissam Ben Yedder’s fourth in the 81st, and Mattéo Guendouzi's fifth in the 92nd, saw France stroll past Bafana.

Substitute Khuliso Mudau saw red in the 84th as Bafana ended with 10 men.

The last time SA played Les Bleus in France, Clive Barker’s African champions lost 2-1 with a strong display in Lens in October 1997, a teen Benni McCarthy making a bright cameo.

That was a different team, and, after the decades of the alarming decay of SA football, a different era too. On Tuesday night it was Uefa Champions League men against DStv Premiership boys.

SA coach Hugo Broos wanted a test against the best. They don’t come better than Dider Deschamps’ world champions, warming up in front of a sold-out, charged-up crowd, for a defence of their title in Qatar in November and December.

Broos now knows for certain the Bafana he is trying to build with a youth policy, blended at times with some strange, hit-and-miss selections, have a long way to go.

Broos mystifyingly opted to keep the experience of former France-based, in-form Kaizer Chiefs star Keagan Dolly, and forward threat of Evidence Makgopa — both identified as danger men by Deschamps — as substitutes. Lyle Foster starting upfront in a game of this magnitude also seemed questionable.

Mostly, it is not this young Bafana or their coach who are to blame for being out of depth against such opposition, in the rare experience of a packed stadium for players who have heard only shouts of their coaches amid SA’s Covid-19 shutdown.

The SA Football Association and Premier Soccer League’s politics and lack of competence structuring any kind of reasonable development programme has destroyed SA football. Coaches like Broos are then expected to come in and work miracles.

France — who have a world-class player production system that has resulted in World Cup victories in 1998 and 2018 — took delight in laughing off that project in Lille.

Bafana had no answer to the world champions’ awe-inspiring power, and it could have been more than 2-0 to Les Bleus at the break. Only goalkeeper Ronwen Williams and midfielder Teboho Mokoena looked anywhere near on a par with the home side’s superstars.

Aston Villa left wingback Lucas Digne’s cross inside the opening 10 minutes was applied with precision, Olivier Giroud’s run was perfectly timed, and France’s second-top all-time scorer contorted for a lethal volley that forced a spectacular stop from Williams.

Back from the break N’Golo Kanté and Jonathan Clauss combined on the right for the latter to shoot into the side-netting.

Kanté fed Mbappé through to skim the crossbar off Williams’ touch. The SA keeper palmed over from Presnel Kimpembe’s header, from Griezman’s corner.

Clauss’s pass into the run of Giroud to force another stop from the under-siege Williams, all within eight minutes of the restart.

Mbappé turned Siyanda Xulu, who climbed all over the striker to foul him in the box and concede the penalty from which the Paris St-Germain man scored France’s third.

Mbappé turned provider for the fourth, his cross knocked down by Paul Pogba for fellow substitute Ben Yedder to finish at the right upright.

Another replacement, Guendouzi, shaped France’s fifth past Williams in added time.