South Africa finished third at the 2018 African U-23 Cup of Nations, earning the right to compete in their second consecutive Olympic Games. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, South Africa emerged from the group with a defeat and two draws in three games.
Though the team will be taking on unfamiliar players, in past Olympic events, France has had some success with rosters of unknown soccer players. A single win could allow these players to gain notoriety, ultimately allowing a few of them to play European soccer.
The reigning World Cup champions went into the Olympics looking for new stars to shine at the 2020 European Championships. France is well-staffed with Ligue 1 players, but disappointingly left PSG striker Kylian Mbappe out of their team roster.
Coach Sylvain Ripaul, who led France to the semi-finals of the 2019 U-21 European Championship and played qualifying games against France for Olympic qualification, only called up football players that have been in an Euro 2020 tournament game.
With the gold medal achieved, France may become the sixth country with more than one men’s Olympic title. And if this was not already an unbelievable accomplishment, they won the previous gold in 1984’s Los Angeles Olympics.
FRENCH VS SOUTH AFRICA
France managed to squeak a narrow victory over South Africa, 4-3. The team was down by one player after injury in the first round of the tournament and barely moved their way back today from their poor performance against Mexico. As long as opponents stay on-site, France can’t score yards because there is little chemistry between members on the team. Gignac continues trying desperately for passes but his teammates’ assistance is minimal at best.
France put on a clownish show at their own goal when defenders once again left French players unprotected. They had to keep the scoreline level until half-time as Kodisang scored with an unmissable penalty – but by luck rather than skill, which can be a mistake in certain tournaments. Fortunately for the favorites, France did get their way and brought on a goal shortly after, such that Michelin hilariously intercepted a pass from deep and fed Kodisang one-on-one.
“This moment” was one of many, and it is worth mentioning that South Africa played “much better.” The play of the wingers Kodisang and Singh looked like a godsend against the French defence – they had 70% good dribbling on two. The boys literally drove a beleaguered group favourite. Kodisang ripped down the flank and set up the second goal, while Mokoena scored the third with a gorgeous shot under crossbar inflection .
Gignac punished the Africans for slacking off
Despite South Africa’s early success, the danger with a team is that they began to relax and lose concentration. France were quick to respond each time. Gignac scored three times. The captain scored two of his usual center-forward style goals under passes from forwards.
Andre-Pierre netted a hat-trick from the penalty spot, and in the shoot-out he set up Savannier’s fourth – and winning – goal. France earned standard after standard, forcing Africa into mistakes. Minaya defender Tercios Malepe, who led South Africa with the captain’s armband, also contributed to the disappointing outcome of this match by leading his team to errors.
France beat South Africa by 4 goals to 3 in the second round of the Olympic football tournament. “Les Bleus” could be said to have robbed their opponents, who had played better for most of the match, scored three beautiful goals and in the final seconds could have set up a fourth! The Fleurs missed from outside the box as France got 3 points and kept their chances of making it to play-offs, but they shouldn’t be involved with all that at this moment.