Reigning world champions France cruised to a 5-0 win over South Africa in an international friendly played at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Villeneuve-d’Ascq on Tuesday night.
Only a fine performance from Bafana Bafana’s Ronwen Williams kept the score from becoming even more embarrassing, as coach Hugo Broos was given a reality check on just how far off the elite level of international football his young team is. The 5-0 reverse is nonetheless the equal-heaviest defeat SA have suffered in senior international football.
Les Bleus dominated throughout the 90 minutes and scored their goals via Kylian Mbappe (two), Olivier Giroud, Wissam Ben Yedder and Matteo Guendouzi, barely breaking a sweat as they continue to build toward a defence of their global title at Qatar 2022.
France started brightly and almost claimed the lead as early as the fifth minute, with Lucas Digne’s cross from the left helped on towards goal by Olivier Giroud, but SA captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams made a fine reaction save.
Kylian Mbappe was a menace in attack for the hosts, twice shooting wide of Williams’s left-hand post in the opening 16 minutes after Bafana Bafana failed to close down the space for the Paris Saint-Germain forward to operate in.
Having been warned of Mbappe’s potency, SA’s defence again stood off him for too long in the 23rd minute and this time the France number 10 picked his spot with unerring accuracy, striking a lofted shot into the top corner of the goal from the edge of the box to make it 1-0 to Les Bleus.
France doubled their advantage on 33 minutes through Giroud, who picked up a pass from Antoine Griezmann in the box, turned and showed great composure to wrong-foot the central defenders and Williams before shooting low into the net with his left foot.
Bafana Bafana offered very little in attack, with their only really threatening moment arriving late in the first half when Nyiko Mobbie whipped in a cross from the right looking for Lyle Foster, but France goalkeeper Mike Maignan did well to claim the awkward ball.
The first half ended with the hosts 2-0 up, while the start of the second had the visitors make a double change, as Goodman Mosele and Khuliso Mudau were brought on in place of Fagrie Lakay and Teboho Mokoena.
Yet France continued to boss proceedings and almost found a third goal seven minutes after the restart when Mbappe was free on the right of the penalty area, but saw his shot tipped onto the crossbar by Williams.
The Bafana ‘keeper denied Giroud again two minutes later with a sharp save at his near post, and repeated that feat against Mbappe just after the hour mark, before Digne cracked a volley on target from the left of the penalty area but saw the effort deflected onto the near post by Williams.
On 74 minutes Mbappe continued his torment of the visitors’ defence and earned a penalty off a clumsy challenge from Siyanda Xulu – the striker took the spot kick himself and beat Williams for a second time to make it 3-0.
The scored moved to 4-0 on 82 minutes when Mbappe’s cross from the right was headed back across goal by Paul Pogba to be turned home at close range by Wissam Ben Yedder, and Bafana were soon reduced to 10 men when Mudau was red carded (after a VAR review) for a nasty studs-up challenge on Digne’s Achilles heel.
Matteo Guendouzi wrapped up the scoring in injury time with a curling effort from outside the box which beat Williams’s left hand and found the bottom corner of the net to make it 5-0.
France (2) 5 (Mbappe 23’ 76’ pen, Giroud 33’, Ben Yedder 82’, Guendouzi 90+2’)
South Africa 0
France: Mike Maignan, William Saliba, Raphael Varane (Jules Kounde 80’), Presnel Kimpembe, Jonathan Clauss (Christopher Nkunku 88’), Adrien Rabiot (Matteo Guendouzi 79’), N’Golo Kante (Paul Pogba 65’), Lucas Digne, Antoine Griezmann (Moussa Diaby 64’), Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud (Wissam Ben Yedder 65’)
SA: Ronwen Williams, Nyiko Mobbie (Bandile Shandu 80’), Siyanda Xulu, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Lyle Lakay, Mothobi Mvala, Thabang Monare, Teboho Mokoena (Goodman Mosele 46’), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Keagan Dolly 67’), Fagrie Lakay (Khuliso Mudau 46’), Lyle Foster (Evidence Makgopa 72’)