France's U17 waded into the U17 World Cup by thumping Group E opponents New Caledonia 1-7, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, on Sunday, 8th October.
A high scoring Sunday in the World Cup itinerary saw two own goals that didn't help New Caledonia's cause and the first of them, five minutes into the game, kicked the game off and soon the goals started to flow. Gouiri (20, 33), Gomes (30), Caqueret (40) and Isidor (90+1) got on the scoresheet as the French proved to be too good for New Caledonia. Wadenges came up with a consolation goal for the World Cup debutants in the 90th minute.
French coach Lionel Rouxel, however, seemed to opine that this match was more of a warm-up, with the group's main opponents in the offing for Les Blues.
"The game was of two parts. One where we scored six goals. The second half was more difficult. Players were tiring in these conditions. However, the real test match is Wednesday, when we face Japan. New Caledonia are a good team however, this is their first participation. My players were serious."
Further questioned about his team's opponents, the coach replied, "(They were) Different in level expected. Second half, we expected them to go down. Good to have New Caledonia in such a competition - a French territory."
Quizzed about France's sole concession, the 47-year-old explained, "Fatigue. humidity. Lack of concentration. We need to rotate in such conditions to win WC. We need all 21 players."
The French senior squad boasts of players such as Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappe, players who donned the U17 jersey just countable years ago. Asked if any of his current team players could reach the level, the gaffer was defensive, and explained, "France has good forwards. The academy is good at training them. Can't compare these boys to senior players though. All players are important."
Finally, the coach lavished praise on his star man Yacine Adli, who assisted thrice and set-up nine chances. "Yacine Adli played a good match. Great football player. Does things which other players cannot do. Need to preserve him. He can be a good player. The World Cup is a good thing for him. He needs three things to break into the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) side and become a top player - needs to be a good boy, a good mentality and good player," concluded the Frenchman.
Dominique Wacalie of New Caledonia believed there was a significant gulf between his and France's players while accepting the defeat with grace.
"The logic of France being better was expected. There is a vast difference Les Bleus and our side. So, no the result comes as no surprise to me," he expressed.
"We will work out to come better in the next game. We have watched France many times and this was our first time on such a big stage. We knew what we were up against it. France are a high-level team and we will strive to reduce the gap in the future," he further added, praising the French team and promising a better performance in the other group ties.
On the Penalty save and what it meant for the team after scoring in such a competition, talk us through what it must be back home, the coach was effusive with pride and concluded, "The Goalkeeper showed his capabilities. We were jumping in elation and that too against France, it was surreal. It definitely means a lot to the people home given the ties with France.
Means a lot for the amateurs here, as well."