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France - South Africa

02:12:23

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FULL-TIME

Tokyo 2020
Mexico thump France in Tokyo to claim first win of men's tournament
22/07/2021 AT 09:55
It's over! France have won a breathless match 4-3 in Saitama. What a joy that was to witness.

90+4' - France 4-3 South Africa

What a miss! Singh fires a low cross into the six yard box, and the completely unmarked Fleurs skies his shot over the bar! My oh my.

90'+2' GOAL! France 4-3 South Africa

They've surely won it! Gignac turns provider, overlapping down the left and firing a cross into the area. Savanier bundles it under control, and rifles a low drive into the bottom corner from 12 yards out!

90' - France 3-3 South Africa

Two more corners for France, as we move into five additional minutes, miniumum.

88' - France 3-3 South Africa

Is there a winner in this? France are pushing hard, and win a corner on the left.

86' GOAL! France 3-3 South Africa

It's a hat-trick for Gignac! He absolutely thumps it into the top left corner, and we're all square!

85' - France 2-3 South Africa

It's a penalty! A deflected cross goes through to Nordin in the area. Williams brings him down, is booked, and France have a chance to level for the third time today!

84' - France 2-3 South Africa

Can South Africa hold it this time? If so, France are out.

83' - France 2-3 South Africa

Mukumela and Monyane replace Mokoena and Frosler for South Africa.

81' - GOAL! France 2-3 South Africa

Stunner! South Africa get the ball forwards and it breaks to Mokoena just on the left of the French area. He opens up his body and plants a thumping curler right into the top corner to regain the lead for South Africa.

80' - France 2-2 South Africa

This is ragged now, and wonderfully entertaining as it opens up at both ends. Beke Beke almost breaks through the South African defence but Williams flies out to gather the ball at his feet.

78' - GOAL! France 2-2 South Africa

This is superb from France. A slide rule ball releases Michelin into the right of the South African area. Michelin stands up his cross to the centre of the six yard box where Gignac thumps his header past Williams to equalise.

78' - France 1-2 South Africa

Mosele replaces Kodisang for South Africa.

75' - France 1-2 South Africa

Cele takes a free kick from the left for South Africa, but it's straight into the mits of Bernadoni.

73' - GOAL! France 1-2 South Africa

This is a beauty for South Africa. Kodisang jinks into space on the right wing, and crosses a lovely low ball to the corner of the six yard box. Makgopa gets across his man and volleys the ball emphatically past Bernadoni at the near post!

71' - France 1-1 South Africa

Le fee has been lively since he came on, and wins a corner for France.

70' - France 1-1 South Africa

Michelin gets in crossing space again on the right, but again it's straight into the hands of Williams.

68' - France 1-1 South Africa

Savanier is booked from bringing down Mahlatsi. France then make two changes, Nordin and Beka Beka replacing Tousart and Thauvin.

66' - France 1-1 South Africa

A misguided cross falls to Le Fee on the edge of the box, but under pressure he can only sky his shot high and wide of goal.

65' - France 1-1 South Africa

A change for South Africa, as Mahlatsi replaces Ngcobo.

61' - France 1-1 South Africa

Mbuku departs for France, replaced by Enzo Le Fee.

59' - France 1-1 South Africa

That's the way to hit back. France have their tails up now, and Mbuku fires a low daisy cutter from distance straight at Williams.

57' GOAL! France 1-1 South Africa

France are level straight away! Muani advances to the byline on the left for France. He cuts it back to the edge of the six-yard box, where Gignac coolly guides a low shot into the bottom corner.

55' - France 0-1 South Africa

That's a staggering error from the French. If they don't rectify it in the next 35 minutes, they're out.

53' GOAL! France 0-1 South Africa

South Africa take the lead! A quick free kick out to the left should be routinely handled by Michelin. There's confusion with Bernadoni though, who rushes out to gather, and the unaware Michelin turns back inside his own area with the ball. Kodisang simply strolls in to pinch the ball from him, and roll it into an empty net with Bernadoni stranded! What a disaster for France.

52' - France 0-0 South Africa

Mbuku tries to take the scenic route around Mohamme on the left, but is muscled out of it.

50' - France 0-0 South Africa

Thauvin unloads from distance, a good 30 yards out. It's fierce, but it's straight at Williams.

49' - France 0-0 South Africa

A half-chance for Gignac as a cross breaks to him on the edge of the area, but he can only guide a weak curler into the hands of Williams.

48' - France 0-0 South Africa

Makgopa finds some room, 25 yards from goal. He's got options left and right but opts to shoot, and it sails high over the bar.

46' - France 0-0 South Africa

Peep! We're underway again in Saitama.

HALF-TIME

It's goalless, but it's been good fare. We'll be back with you shortly for the second half.

45+1' - France 0-0 South Africa

Kodisang launches an ambitious effort to the back post, from right on the left corner of the area, and it's gathered comfortably by Bernadoni.

43' - France 0-0 South Africa

Mbuku dances nicely into a crossing position in the inside right channel, but again it's a poor cross that goes straight to Williams.

41' - PENALTY MISSED!

Singh takes it for South Africa. He sends Bernadoni definitively the wrong way, but lifts his shot onto the bar and over!

40' France 0-0 South Africa

It's a penalty to South Africa! Tousart brings down Makgopa with a clumsy challenge, and it's a chance for South Africa to take the lead!

39' - France 0-0 South Africa

More good stuff from Thauvin, until he lofts his cross straight into the hands of Williams.

36' - France 0-0 South Africa

Thauvin gets Gignac away in the inside left channel. Gignac advances into the area, looking to open up on to his left foot and shoot, but he stumbles into a tackle and South Africa clear.

34' - France 0-0 South Africa

Thauvin whips a ball in from the left. Kolo Muani is all alone at the back post, where he volleys tamely into the ground and Williams gathers. As it happens, he was offside.

32' - France 0-0 South Africa

France get a free kick on the right edge of the South African area. Gignac takes it, but can only whip it straight into the hands of Williams in the centre of the goal.

29' - France 0-0 South Africa

It's a lively one now! Thauvin reverses a ball into the centre of the South African box, where Gignac saunters through to round Williams and tap home. He's offside though, just, and it's chalked.

28' - France 0-0 South Africa

South Africa are knocking here. Singh works his way into space 25 yards out and shoots, but it's a couple of yards wide.

25' - France 0-0 South Africa

Two more chances! Singh picks the ball up 30 yards from goal, and glides past two into the area. It's a gorgeous run, but Bernadoni pulls off an excellent save as Singh opens up and aims for the far corner. South Africa get it back, and an intricate move finds Kodisang in shooting space on the left of the area; he miscues his shot completely and France clear.

23' - France 0-0 South Africa

Makgopa clatters the post! A simple ball cuts through the French back four and Makgopa thunders it first time from the edge. Bernadoni is rooted, but the ball wallops the post and bounces back out to no one.

22' - France 0-0 South Africa

Under severe pressure from Gignac, Williams exhibitssome nimble footwork to effortlessly pass the ball out of danger.

20' - France 0-0 South Africa

Nkounkou goes into the book now after dumping Singh over in midfield.

18' - France 0-0 South Africa

Michelin piles forwards down the right again for France, crossing dangerously into the box where it's cleared at the back post.

16' - France 0-0 South Africa

Mokoena is booked for South Africa, after clattering Michelin.

14' - France 0-0 South Africa

A chance for South Africa. They win a free kick 25 yards from goal, which Singh lines up; he whips a fizzing drive over the wall and it's destined for the top corner, but Bernadoni pulls off an excellent one-handed save to turn it over the bar for a corner!

12' - France 0-0 South Africa

Michelin lofts a ball to the back post. There's the potential for a van Basten-esque volley from Gignac, but he miskicks it meekly and sends it well wide of the near post.

11' - France 0-0 South Africa

France win another corner, taken by Savanier, and again South Africa clear.

10' - France 0-0 South Africa

After a brief spell of South African possession France take charge again. A long ball to the left almost gets Mbuku away, but he's muscled out of it by Frosler.

7' - France 0-0 South Africa

Progress for Michelin down the right, overlapping into a crossing position, and he wins a corner. It's chipped to Thauvin on the edge of the area, and his piercing volley deflects a yard wide of the far post.

4' - France 0-0 South Africa

It's another look for France after they win a free kick in the middle of South Africa's half. Savanier launches his shot from fully 35 yards out, getting a vicious up an down dip on the ball, but it's straight at Williams who gathers easily.

2' - France 0-0 South Africa

Gignac has the first shot in anger. He chests down a long ball on the edge of the area, before slashing the bouncing ball hopelessly high and wide of goal.

1' - France 0-0 South Africa

Our Peruvian referee Kevin Ortega gives it the shrill blast of the whistle, and we're off!

Here we go

The teams enter the deserted stadium to the blaring sound of Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes. We're into the anthems, and we'll be underway shortly.

Thrashed

A quick reminder of why France are in the muck; on Thursday they were given this thorough pasting by Mexico:

Hard times

It’s been a tough time for the South African team so far in Tokyo. After three positive COVID-19 tests last week that forced their squad to isolate and miss crucial training sessions, they somewhat understandably lost their opening match to hosts Japan on Thursday. Their coach, David Notoane, was not impressed at how his players were treated.
‘One thing that I think one has to address is the issue of stigmatisation,’ he said. ‘Often, when people come across us, you see people running away. I think that’s a little disrespectful.’

Pioneers

France pretty much invented the structure of modern international football as we know it; the European Cup, the World Cup, the European Championship and the Ballon d’Or are just four of their gifts to the world. When Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympics in 1896, he also laid the ground for the Olympic football tournament, which first took place four years later. France bagged a silver on that occasion, and only Italy, USA and Brazil have appeared in the men’s competition on more occasions.
They’ve won it too, y’know; back in 1984, just after the Carre Magique sorted out the European Championship in Paris, the French Olympic team popped over to Los Angeles and came back with the gold medals.

Changes

There are three changes for France from their opening game, as Randal Kolo Muani and Nathanael Mbuku come in to the front three while Everton’s Niels Nkounkou comes in to bolster the back four.
For South Africa, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Kobamelo Kodisang and Katlego Mohamme get their first Olympic starts today.

And here's France

Your South Africa for today

Hey Hey!

Welcome to live coverage of France versus South Africa in Group A of the men’s football tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
We’re only on day two of the Olympics, but it could be effectively over for one of these teams in a couple of hours. A draw would keep both France and South Africa in with a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals but a defeat for either would mean that, bar the final, box-ticking exercise of the last group game, their Tokyo 2020 is done as a competitive concern.
Plenty to play for then, let’s get it popping. Teams from the Saitama Stadium will follow shortly.
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