France boss defends SA friendly

World News

France manager Didier Deschamps has refuted claims that the nation's upcoming friendlies against South Africa and Ivory Coast have no value. 

Les Bleus' first meeting in four months will get off to a difficult start after high-profile duo Benjamin Pavard and Karim Benzema were both ruled out of the matches against their African opposition. 

They have been replaced in the squad by Olivier Giroud and William Saliba, who has earned his first call-up for France as a result of Pavard's late recovery from positive COVID-19 test.  

The 2018 FIFA World Cup winners will lock horns with Ivory Coast on Friday, before they take on Bafana Bafana in what is expected to be a sold-out event at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy next Tuesday.

Some critics have suggested that the friendlies have little value for Les Bleus, but Deschamps has rejected this notion. 

"Some of you will say that these matches have no value but it is better to win them otherwise they will increase in value (smiles)!" he said, per the French Football Federation's official website.   

"I prefer to be in my place, qualified for the World Cup with two friendly matches on the programme than that of my Italian or Portuguese counterparts who will face each other in the play-off.  

"Do not trivialise an international gathering. 

"The pleasure of meeting up is there because the players have chained matches with disappointments and moments of happiness.  

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"We haven't been together for four months: it's the return of the French team. Next, I am realistic.  

"Many players are there, had very important matches before and will have very important ones after.  

"We are going to play in Lille, the stadium is full and in Marseille, the stadium will be."

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