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Bafana Bafana's acid test against world champions France

FILE - Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos. Photo: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

FILE - Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos. Photo: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Published Mar 28, 2022

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Cape Town — Bafana Bafana will be enjoying the rare luxury of playing an international friendly against a world top-10 ranked team, and to boot, the reigning World Cup champions at that.

France will host Bafana Bafana at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, a 50 000-seater stadium in Lille, where the locals have purchased every available ticket to see the World Cup champs in action (kick-off 915pm).

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The world No-3 ranked France, one of the most decorated sides on the planet, conquered world football in Moscow in 2018 and since then have won the UEFA Nations League championship. Their national team boasts two of the world's foremost players in Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe.

ALSO READ: N’Golo Kante set to feature against Bafana Bafana

They have already qualified for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year and will warm up for the global showpiece with Nations League matches, starting on June 3 against Denmark.

Last Friday, France scrapped home 2-1 against the Ivory Coast thanks to an injury-time goal. It was obvious that the French did not extend themselves. Their coach Didier Deschamps said he used the outing to prepare the team for future assignments. As such, he did not place a high premium on winning.

Deschamps' South African counterpart Hugo Broos fielded an "experimental" team on Friday against Guinea, and he too mentioned that winning was not of paramount importance. Broos copped some pre-match criticism because of his selections, but in the end, his 'Guinea Pigs' ran the opposition ragged in the first half and then took the foot off the gas in the second stanza.

ALSO READ: Bafana coach Hugo Broos: 'It will be a different ball game against France'

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According to Broos, it is unlikely that Bafana Bafana will beat hosts France, unlike in 2010 when the South Africans caused a major World Cup shock with a 2-1 win in a group phase match. France are on a seven-match winning streak in all competitions going into the match. Broos, however, is confident the team will give a good account of themselves after witnessing a vastly improved performance against Guinea on Friday.

The match against France will be Hugo Broos’ 15th game at the helm and he has a creditable record. His record in all matches shows 10 wins, three draws and one defeat. He has admitted that the record may be flattering because Bafana Bafana have often faced weaker teams in friendly encounters.

“When we (Bafana Bafana) started in September with a young team, everyone was asking how we would do in the World Cup qualifying phase," said Broos. "I have to say we ran a good race, but we still have to make even more progress.

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ALSO READ: Five French players that could mean trouble for Bafana Bafana

"What we see now and what we saw back in September it is like there is a day and night difference.”

“Whatever the result is against France, if I see my team play like I would like them to play and the quality is higher, I will be a happy man.

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"It will be a good experience for the players on Tuesday and I think they are also looking forward to it.

ALSO READ: Bafana boost as top striker duo available to face France

"There are signs to show we’re progressing and that’s the most important thing. We have brought in some new players and a few older players because we had a lack of experience in a young team.

"We have made good choices. This squad is progressing and getting better and better. The goal is June (start of qualifiers) and AFCON next year. We want to be there (in Ivory Coast).”

Fans will have a host of broadcast options, but the national broadcaster has announced the match will be shown live on SABC 1.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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