Cape Town — BAFANA Bafana coach Hugo Broos has lined up a two-prong attack of Fagrie Lakay and Bongokuhle Hlongwane for Tuesday's international friendly against World Cup champions France.
The match venue, the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, is the home of Ligue 1 side Lille Olympique Sporting Club, in Lille. The 50, 000-seater stadium will be packed to the rafters. The French Football Federation (FFF), the hosts, have announced that all the tickets were snapped up a few days ago.
The SA squad arrived in France on Tuesday, but strikers Lakay and Hlongwane only joined the national squad yesterday, after experiencing visa problems. Broos said their late arrival did not pose a problem since he originally planned to omit the two players for last night’s opening tour match against Guinea, in Belgium.
It will come as a relief to Broos that the star players will be available for the clash against France. He will need his strongest team to line up against the World Champions, France, presently ranked No 3 in the world.
France coach Didier Deschamps has already stressed the importance of the friendly, one of two the team will play in the space of four days. The first friendly was against Ivory Coast, at the Stade Orange Velodrome in Marseille yesterday.
Deschamps took strong exception to criticism in the French media who claimed the friendlies against African opponents were a waste of time.
“Do not despise an international gathering (match)," said Deschamps, the star midfielder, who was part of the Marseille team that won the UEFA Champions League 1993. To date, Marseille is the only French club to achieve that honour.
Although France will be without their kingpins Karim Benzema and Benjamin Pavard, Broos says the World Cup champs can still call on the likes of (Kylian) Mbappé, (Olivier) Giroud, (N'Golo) Kante.
Benzema, the Real Madrid striker, and Pavard, the Bayern Munich defender, are nursing injuries.
“With France, I don’t think I have to explain (why we chose to play them)," said Broos. "I mean, they are world champions. So, it will be a tough game.
“Certainly, we will lose against this team, but it’s okay, that is not a problem. When you see this team that normally includes Mbappe, Benzema, Giroud, Kante — I can give you some other names too. So, they are a high-quality team. It will be very tough, but it will be a good experience."
Apart from the inclusion of Lakay (Pyramids FC, Egypt) and Hlongwane (Minnesota United, USA), Broos will beef up his midfield stocks with ever-improving Orlando Pirates midfielder Goodman Mosele. He was not considered for Friday's game because he was nursing an ankle injury.
“Mosele came (to the training camp) with an injury from Pirates on Sunday, but he’ll be back in training on Saturday. We will not take a risk with him for the game on Friday,” said Broos.
Tuesday's match at Stade Pierre-Mauroy will kick off at 9.15pm (SA time and 8.15pm in France).