Durban - Bafana Bafana were taught a football lesson as France downed them 5-0 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille.
Kylian Mbappe put France ahead in the 23rd minute. Antoine Griezmann first beat his markers quite easily on the right flank before finding Mbappe with a cross. The Paris-Saint Germain star then sent in a curling effort towards the far-right corner which gave Ronwen Williams no chance of saving.
Had it not been for some smart goalkeeping from Williams and France missing the target a few times, France could have easily achieved a rugby scoreline on the night.
Les Bleus got their second just after the half-hour mark, punishing Bafana Bafana on the counter-attack.
Lyle Lakay found Nyikho Mobbie before France cleared. Soon afterwards, Olivier Giroud found himself in the box, leaving the Bafana defence dumbfounded with his skill before doubling the lead from close range.
Mbappe scored his second from the penalty spot in the 75th minute to give France their third goal. He won the penalty himself after being played through by Paul Pogba before he was fouled in the box by Siyanda Xulu.
France went on to get their fourth goal in the 81st minute as Pogba got his second assist. This time he headed from a cross into the path of Wissam Ben Yedder who simply tucked the ball into the net.
Things went from bad to worse for Bafana just two minutes later as Khuliso Mudau was shown a red-card.
France notched their fifth goal in second half stoppage time as Matteo Guendouzi scored with a strike from just outside the box.
There is no embarassment in losing to France but they've not even exerted themselves in this game which is a bad sign. If Mbappe was a bit more on his toes, we could have been 7-8 down by now.— Eshlin Vedan (@eshlinv) March 29, 2022
For the majority of players in the Bafana Bafana squad, the game marked the first time that they were playing in front of a packed ground in over two years.
South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) games have been played behind closed doors since the onset of the lockdown two years ago. However, that is set to change early next month after the PSL recently announced that stadiums will be allowed to hold 50% of their capacity.
Bafana coach Hugo Broos lived up to his promise to give as many players as possible opportunities as Mudau and Goodman Mosele were brought in ahead of the second half for Teboho Mokoena and Lakay.
Lucas Digne forced Williams to tap the ball onto the post in the 64th minute with a powerful effort from range. The rebound fell to Giroud whose positioning was a bit too advanced.
The veteran striker showed good improvisation to try and tuck the ball in with the back of his foot but his effort went over. Had he scored, it would have been a stunner.
Bafana Bafana will need to use the experiences learned on their European trip to prepare for the Afcon 2023 qualifications which start in June.
France will be looking to continue fine-turning their preparations for the World Cup which they will look to successfully defend in Qatar later this year after winning the showpiece event in 2018.