Giroud jeered as France beat Cameroon
France head coach Didier Deschamps lauded the impact of Dimitri Payet, who scored the decisive goal in Monday’s 3-2 friendly win against Cameroon and slammed those who booed Olivier Giroud.
Les Bleus took a 2-1 lead into half-time thanks to goals from Blaise Matuidi and Giroud, but Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting equalised for the Africans late on.
Payet then scored a trademark free-kick in stoppage time to seal a third straight win for France, who look in good form ahead of Euro 2016.
“Dimitri didn’t play the last league game (with West Ham) and played his last game on May 7. It’s been three weeks since he last played. This game was good for him, to get back into the pace of the game,” the Le Blues boss said.
Deschamps admitted Payet still needs some work ahead of the tournament, having not played for three weeks heading into this match.
“He can do better, but every time he touches the ball, there is something happening. He has quality from set pieces – free-kicks, corners… and it is something that is important. He is very important for us,” the 1998 World Cup winning captain told reporters.
The 47-year-old also labelled jeers from the crowd towards Giroud ‘unfair’.
“You hear what you want. The whistles were unfair tonight. But in Biarritz, he was applauded. People can be conditioned. But Olivier scored again tonight. When you say it, you are not helpful. You are free to say what you want but this is not necessarily the truth.”
France looked sluggish at times but could at least rely on gifted teenager Kingsley Coman in their penultimate warm-up game for the Euro 2016 campaign on home soil.
France snatched victory with a last-gasp Payet free kick but it was Coman who caught the eye as the 19-year-old Bayern Munich winger set up a goal and made his presence felt all over the pitch until he came off in the 77th minute.
His performance confirmed that the hosts can bank on young talent up front in the June 10-July 10 tournament.
France opened the scoring after 20 minutes in the western port city when midfielder Matuidi volleyed home a fine cross by Coman, starting a match for France for the first time.
Cameroon levelled two minutes later, Vincent Aboubacar catching the home defence off guard to tap in from close range.
Striker Giroud put the hosts ahead from a Paul Pogba cross four minutes before the break.
The second half proved relatively uneventful until Choupo Moting equalised from close range two minutes from time before Payet popped up with the winner at the death.
France boast a string of impressive forwards and fine midfielders but have been hampered by defensive woes in their build-up to the finals.
Versatile defender Jeremy Mathieu and centre-back Raphael Varane have been ruled out of the tournament with injuries.
Their backline, with Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami paired in central defence for the first time in four years, looked shaky against a determined Cameroon side and must clearly be coach Deschamps’s main concern.
“Everything was not perfect but at least the spirit we need was there and that’s the most important thing”, said Deschamps, who learned his trade with Nantes before captaining France to their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs.
“We have things to work on, it’s true, but we have a group of players and all them know they can play a role,” he told French television channel TF1.
Deschamps, who has until Tuesday to finalise a 23-man squad, made it clear he would not call up Mamadou Sakho, even though media have reported the Liverpool defender’s provisional 30-day ban for a failed drug test is unlikely to be extended by UEFA.
France were without striker Antoine Griezmann, who enjoyed a great season but was rested after his Atletico Madrid side lost to city rivals Real in Saturday’s Champions League final.
Les Bleus will face Scotland in their final warm-up game on June 4 in Metz. They will play Romania in the opening game of the tournament on June 10 at the Stade de France and will also meet Albania and Switzerland in Group A.