Reigning Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Senegal and continental powerhouse Ivory Coast have been drawn together for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The biennial tournament is due to be held in Algeria in January and February 2023, with 18 teams competing across five groups. The participants must consist only of players playing in their domestic national league competitions.

Group B looms as the toughest with Senegal drawn alongside two-time AFCON winners Ivory Coast, as well as DR Congo and Uganda. DR Congo missed out on 2022 World Cup qualification in the playoffs to Morocco.

Hosts Algeria are in Group A with 2014 winners Libya, Ethiopia and Mozambique, while Morocco, who have lifted the past two African Nations Championship titles, are in Group C with Ghana, Sudan and Madagascar.

Mali, Angola and Mauritania are in Group D and Cameroon, Congo and Niger make up Group E.

Egypt, who lost last year's AFCON final to Senegal, along with 2022 World Cup participants Tunisia did not enter, while Nigeria failed to qualify.

Sebastien Haller has been surprised by the "compassion" of others since being diagnosed with testicular cancer, as FIFA president Gianni Infantino backed the Borussia Dortmund striker to bounce back.

The Ivory Coast international moved to Bundesliga heavyweights Dortmund of the new campaign, after a superb 2021-22 season with Ajax saw him finish as the Eredivisie's top scorer.

His plans for making an early impact on the field in Germany were scuppered when a tumour was found, with the 28-year-old former West Ham player needing to undergo chemotherapy.

Haller has been understandably reluctant to put a time frame on his return to action, but he feels positive about the progress he is making, saying: "I'm very well. The treatment is going well, and luckily I'm able to train every day."

Speaking about the support he has had, Haller told FIFA.com: "It was a shock, but it's been positive. I never expected to get such a response or have so much compassion shown to me, and not just from the football world. These are things that bring us all together, and it's given me a huge amount of strength in facing up to this challenge.

"It doesn't matter whether they're Ivorian, Dutch, French, German, English or whatever; everyone who's given me their support from near or far is a source of energy for my family, friends and I.

"All I can say to them is that I'll be doing everything I can to come back as quickly as possible and to play a decisive role for my club and my country."

Haller made a welcome appearance in the crowd to see Dortmund get their Champions League campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday, with a 3-0 home victory over FC Copenhagen.

Dortmund also sit second in the Bundesliga table after five games, level on points with Freiburg who hold top spot on goal difference.

The signs are promising that Haller will rejoin a strong squad, once he is ready to play again.

FIFA chief Infantino wrote to him: "On behalf of both myself and the international football community, I would like to extend my sincere wishes to you for a full and speedy recovery, and hope to see you back to full health very soon."

Sebastien Haller has given a positive update on his tumour treatment, but the Borussia Dortmund striker says it will be "a few months" before he can consider a playing return.

His diagnosis followed a July move to the Bundesliga heavyweights, after a superb 2021-22 season with Ajax saw Haller finish as the Eredivisie's top scorer.

Hopes of a flying start in Germany were checked after a testicular tumour was found, with the 28-year-old forced to step back from the field to undergo chemotherapy. Dortmund have since signed Anthony Modeste as back-up.

Former West Ham player Haller has said he is in good spirits and does not feel his body has been significantly affected since starting his course of treatment.

"I walk every day and check my body," Haller told ESPN. "I haven't lost that much after two weeks. I'm even at the same level as a few months ago. That's a good sign and I hope it stays that way. I feel very well."

The Ivory Coast international was reluctant to put a time-frame on his return to competitive football, saying: "Let's just say now is not the best time to take that step, because it will take me a few months.

"The important thing is that I don't lose too much muscle mass. I have to stay fit, and a month before I return on the field I will do some work with the ball again. Now the most important thing is that my body feels good.

"My first goal is to be back on the field, to play for [Dortmund] and score my first goal. That will be a beautiful and emotional moment."

Dortmund have enjoyed a solid start to the new campaign in Haller's absence, with three wins from four Bundesliga games, as they aim to mount another title challenge against holders Bayern Munich.

The next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will take place in January and February 2024, rather than between June and July 2023, according to CAF president Patrice Motsepe.

Africa's premier international tournament was due to be held in Ivory Coast during the European off-season next year, but the threat of heavy flooding in the country at that time of year means it will again take place midway through the club campaign.  

Speaking in the Moroccan capital Rabat, where a meeting of the CAF Executive Committee was taking place, Motsepe said: "We cannot take the risk.

"January is not the ideal time because of the European clubs, but it is the only choice we have."

In 2017 CAF announced its intention to play the tournament at the end of the European club season.

However, this year's edition, won by Senegal in February, was twice rescheduled after being slated to start in both June 2021 and June 2022, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and adverse weather conditions in Cameroon.

The move is unlikely to be popular with several big-name club coaches, with Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp one high-profile critic of the decision to play the most recent tournament at the height of the European season.

CAF Secretary-General Veron Mosengo-Omba, however, insisted the contrasting weather conditions across the continent meant a permanent switch to a January-February tournament was not on the cards.

CAF also announced the creation of an African Super League on Sunday, with the first edition of the 24-team tournament, which will run alongside the African Champions League, slated to begin in August 2023. 

Jack Grealish is in awe of England team-mate Jude Bellingham, labelling his abilities as "scary" for one so young.

Bellingham played the full 90 minutes as the Three Lions beat 10-man Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley on Tuesday, catching the eye as he featured in an advanced role ahead of James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice.

It was Bellingham's 12th senior cap, with England winning every single match he has played in – only Theo Walcott (14 matches) has enjoyed a longer winning start to his Three Lions career than the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.

Bellingham is in his second season in the Bundesliga with Dortmund and has already established himself as a key player, making 25 league starts from a possible 27.

Links to other major European clubs have been frequent for the youngster, and Grealish could not hide the admiration he holds for his fellow West Midlands-native after a mature performance.

Asked if he had ever played alongside a teenager as good as Bellingham, Grealish told reporters: "I haven't actually. It is scary how good he is at 18.

"He is just so mature. He is built like he is my age at 26. He has so much technical ability and he is mature for his age.

"I can tell you one thing, I was nowhere near as good at 18. I was at Notts County [on loan from Aston Villa] and I was a scrawny little thing as well.

"You see talented 18 or 19-year-old kids but not many are that mature as he is on the pitch. He is so versatile and can play in many different positions on the pitch.

"He can be a six, eight or a 10. It was good to play with him and I think it was my first time playing with him. It is nice to play with a fellow Brummie."

Harry Kane has launched a staunch defence of under-fire England team-mate Harry Maguire after the defender was jeered by fans, describing the reception as "just not right".

Manchester United captain Maguire started Tuesday's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast at Wembley, where goals from Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings sealed victory for the hosts.

Despite having been a key figure under Gareth Southgate, even earning a spot in the UEFA Team of the Tournament for his performances at Euro 2020, Maguire has become a target for the boo boys in club and international colours.

Southgate labelled the reaction "an absolute joke", and Kane took to Twitter on Wednesday to echo those sentiments, adding that Maguire had the full backing of his international team-mates.

"We’ve worked hard to rebuild our connection with England fans in the last few years so to hear Harry Maguire booed at Wembley before kick-off was just not right," the Tottenham striker tweeted.

"The fact that he's been brilliant on the pitch and given us all so many great memories makes it even harder to understand. He doesn't deserve that reception.

"He's got full support in the changing room and should have the same from every England fan."

 

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson also offered his support to Maguire via social media.

"I can't get my head around what happened at Wembley tonight," he wrote on Twitter.

"Harry Maguire has been a colossus for England. Without him, the progress made at the last two tournaments would not have been possible.​

"To be booed at his home stadium, for no reason? What have we become? What happened tonight was just wrong. As someone who wants to win with England, I feel fortunate to share a dressing room with him.

"We all feel the same!"

Raheem Sterling spoke of his pride after recording a goal and an assist while standing in as England captain for Tuesday's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast.

The Manchester City winger teed up Ollie Watkins' opener before turning home the second goal after Serge Aurier had seen red for the visitors, donning the captain's armband as regular skipper Harry Kane started on the bench. 

Tyrone Mings added a late third for Gareth Southgate's men, with the Three Lions maintaining their record of having never lost to an African team, winning 14 and drawing six of their 20 clashes with sides from the continent.

Sterling's strike at Wembley, meanwhile, was his first ever friendly goal for England, with the first 18 of his 19 international goals coming in competitive fixtures.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the aftermath of the win, Sterling highlighted the role England's senior players have played in welcoming a raft of new faces to a much-changed squad this month.

"It's a good night," he said. "It's always an honour to get the opportunity to wear the captain's armband, and I thought it was a great team performance in the end.

"[Being captain] is a great privilege. Never in my wildest imagination, as a young player coming through, did I think that I would captain England one day. It's not something I'd ever have imagined. 

"I remember coming through as a young player, and it's always nice when senior players put their arm around you and make you feel comfortable, because it's a new environment, at the end of the day.

"All we can do is try to make the new players as comfortable as possible, so they can play as well as they can."

England, meanwhile, are now unbeaten in their last 22 games in all competitions inside 90 minutes, recording 18 wins and four draws during that time.

And Sterling said the Euro 2020 runners-up have to take things "game-by-game" if they are to better that run at the World Cup later this year.

"We've had two good friendlies here, where the manager has tried different formations and different teams," Sterling added.

"All we can do is just continue to build on last summer, go one game at a time, get through this summer and put in some good performances."

Gareth Southgate described the reaction of some England supporters towards Harry Maguire as "an absolute joke" after the defender was booed before kick-off on Tuesday.

Manchester United captain Maguire started the Three Lions' victory against the Ivory Coast, as goals for Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings secured a 3-0 success at Wembley.

The centre-back has been a key performer for Southgate since breaking through into the senior set-up, and he was named to the UEFA Team of the Tournament for his performances at Euro 2020.

Yet since scoring in England's penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in last year's final, Maguire has struggled for form at club level, and has often found himself a scapegoat for United's on-field issues.

Those frustrations translated themselves into audible jeers from sections of the home support on Tuesday, leaving Southgate to launch a passionate defence of his player at the full-time whistle.

"I thought the reception was a joke, an absolute joke," manager Southgate said. "The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal.

"I don't get it. We're either all in this together or we're not. He's in an England shirt and [...] you support a player in an England shirt regardless.

"When you've played at the level he has for us and put the performances in he has, it should be total commitment behind him. I don't get it at all.

"His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for his first goal, was involved in the second one too.

"The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments, but he's a top player and he will come through it.

"They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion.

"The club situation is obviously very difficult, but he's in an England shirt. I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt, and it's never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team."

 

Jack Grealish also came to Maguire's defence, with the Manchester City attacking midfielder hailing the defender's creative prowess as crucial to the Three Lions' success against Ivory Coast.

"Personally I think it's ridiculous," Grealish said. "Harry's been unbelievable for this country. Our first two goals have come from him.

"Not every centre-back can have those qualities. It was ridiculous for him to get booed, and it wasn't something the team liked one bit."

Jack Grealish believes it is a "brilliant time" to be in his shoes, as the England star focuses on improving his attacking output to impress Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Grealish produced a lively display as England beat Ivory Coast 3-0 in Tuesday's international friendly, with the attacking midfielder playing a leading role in a largely inexperienced starting XI.

The former Aston Villa man set up his City team-mate Raheem Sterling for England's second goal, with what was one of three key passes – only James Ward-Prowse supplied more.

While his performances for City since his massive £100million move from Villa last year have been far from alarming, Grealish's productivity in terms of goals and assists is lacking.

Eight City players have managed more goal involvements than Grealish (who has seven) across all competitions, and while Guardiola has indicated he is not worried, the 26-year-old playmaker is eager to see his end product improve.

 

"I'm just happy to get goals and assists," Grealish told Sky Sports after teeing up Sterling for England.

"They have been difficult to come by at Manchester City, but with England I have got quite a few. I want to continue playing well because I'm really enjoying it.

"Of course, I've spoken to Pep Guardiola. He's shown me every other stat in the world that you would be happy with, apart from goals and assists.

"He's the only person I need to impress, but if you're a forward you want to get goals and assists, so hopefully in the business end of the season I can get them."

He did not seem overly concerned in general, however, clearly recognising he is in a good place.

"It's a brilliant time to be in my shoes," Grealish said. "We're in so many competitions still and then at the end of the year we have the World Cup. I need to keep impressing the manager to get into that squad."

Tuesday's match was effectively ended as a spectacle in the 40th minute when Serge Aurier was shown a second yellow card for dissent, reducing an Ivory Coast side that was already struggling to hurt England to 10 men.

Curiously, even Grealish was protesting in favour of his opponent at the time.

"I wanted [Aurier] to stay on because it's a friendly and you get more from playing against 11," Grealish explained.

"I think it would have been more of a challenge for us. I said to the referee: 'Come on!'"

England are next in action at the start of June when they start their Nations League campaign against Hungary – but first, they turn their attention to Friday's World Cup draw, which will reveal who they are to face in the group stage of Qatar 2022.

Raheem Sterling played a starring role with the captain's armband as England cruised to a 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast, who had Serge Aurier sent off in the first half.

Gareth Southgate made 10 changes from the team that beat Switzerland 2-1 on Saturday, though at no point did that look an issue for the Three Lions, whose record unbeaten run was extended to 22 matches – excluding penalty shoot-outs.

Sterling was at the centre of much that was good about England in the first half, teeing up Ollie Watkins for the opener and then providing a finish just before the interval having seen Aurier dismissed moments earlier.

An England penalty was then overturned early in the second half, and the Three Lions looked like settling for a two-goal win during a disjointed second 45 minutes until Tyrone Mings headed a last-gasp third.

England were dominant right from the start and almost went ahead in the 15th minute, but Jude Bellingham's close-range effort was nudged onto the post by Badra Ali Sangare.

The visitors' goalkeeper was helpless a quarter of an hour later, though, as Sterling beat Aurier and squared across the six-yard box for Watkins to tap in.

Ivory Coast's chances of a turnaround were further damaged when Aurier was shown a second yellow card for dissent in the 40th minute, and soon after it was 2-0 thanks to Sterling's close-range finish from Jack Grealish's cut-back.

The VAR spared Ivory Coast a penalty concession early in the second half after Fousseny Coulibaly was initially penalised for a clean tackle on Bellingham.

Just when the game appeared to be petering out, Mings saw his header from a corner crash into the ground and bounce up to find the top-right corner in stoppage time.
 

What does it mean? Fringe players get a chance to impress

In truth, this ended up being little more than a training session that just happened to be attended by fans and televised, especially after Aurier's dismissal.

Nick Pope in the England goal will not have had many (any?) easier matches in his entire career, but further forward there were certainly a few players who grasped their opportunity with both hands.

Bellingham was particularly good, while Watkins got himself on the scoresheet and Emile Smith Rowe looked tidy after coming on in the second half.

Sterling shimmers

This was an excellent hour or so from the Manchester City star. Pep Guardiola probably grimaced when the forward was on the end of a heavy early tackle, but from then on he was a real threat, having a hand in the first two goals – it was the first time he had scored and assisted in an England game since October 2019.

Aurier surprises no one

There was a degree of mystery around Aurier's second yellow card for a moment, though it soon emerged he was punished for dissent. It was needless, as was his tough tackle on Grealish for his first yellow. But if anyone was a prime candidate for a first-half red card, Aurier was always going to be the man.

What's next?

England begin their Nations League campaign away to Hungary on June 4, but before that they will turn their attentions to Friday's World Cup draw.

Conor Coady believes England can learn from last year's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy, just as they did from experiences at the 2018 World Cup.

The Wolves captain only made his England debut in September 2020, but has become a regular face of Gareth Southgate's squads in recent times, and will likely be a part of the Three Lions setup at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Coady – who came through the ranks at youth level with Liverpool – now has nine senior England caps, and spoke to Sky Sports ahead of Tuesday's friendly with Ivory Coast at Wembley Stadium.

"I think we can learn so much from that," he said when asked about losing on penalties to Italy in July. "That's something this group of players, this squad, this team, have done ever so well at since the World Cup in 2018 and the Nations League – trying to take on board everything we've done.

"We can learn so much. Whether it be in games, tactical stuff or obviously being around the place as well, so there's always stuff we can improve on and always stuff we can learn. That's something we try to do every time we meet up as well."

The 29-year-old has played in all 30 Premier League games for Wolves this season, and is part of a backline that has conceded just 26 goals, the fourth best in the league behind only Manchester City (18), Chelsea (19) and Liverpool (20), but insists he never takes his place in the England squad for granted.

"I never get used to the feeling because if you do, I think you become a little bit comfortable," he said.

"Getting comfortable is something I've never done in my life, I never would do. Being called up by your country is the biggest privilege a footballer can ever have in their life, so I've never got comfortable and I'll never take it for granted."

Coady also praised the new faces in the latest England squad, with Southampton's Kyle Walker-Peters as well as Crystal Palace duo Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell making their senior international debuts in Saturday's 2-1 win against Switzerland.

"All of them have stood out," Coady added. "We see the quality they have in training, we see what they're like on the ball, we see how they play.

"They're fantastic footballers, but I think more importantly, they're fantastic people and that's what this squad's for. It's full of absolutely brilliant people who want to try and help and they're no different."

Ivory Coast boss Patrice Beaumelle is hopeful he can convince England defender Marc Guehi to switch his international allegiance.

Guehi, who was born in Ivory Coast, made his senior debut in the Three Lions’ victory over Switzerland at Wembley on Saturday.

The Crystal Palace defender has now represented England at every level from Under 16 upwards, and could make his second appearance in Tuesday’s clash with the Elephants.

However, the 21-year-old is still eligible to switch to the country of his birth, having yet to appear in a competitive match under Gareth Southgate.

Guehi, who spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Championship side Swansea City, has made 28 Premier League appearances since leaving Chelsea for Selhurst Park in July.

The Eagles have kept eight league clean sheets along the way, a tally bettered by just seven sides in the English top-flight this term.

And Ivory Coast head coach Beaumelle hopes Guehi will follow in the footsteps of Wilfried Zaha by swapping the Three Lions for the Elephants.

"I have been following Marc for two years, since he was playing at Swansea," he said.

"I know he can still choose Ivory Coast, so we are working on that. I tried to contact him several weeks ago.

"But when I saw him in the English lists, I understood that at the moment, he wants to try with the Three Lions.

"The choice has to come from the heart. He will make his own decision. He did well in his first cap for England.

"Maybe, we will try for the orange jersey of Ivory Coast – you never know.

"I will wait a few weeks and try to contact him to know if he is interested."

England boss Gareth Southgate has reiterated that defender Harry Maguire has what it takes to play "at the highest level" despite the Manchester United man's poor club form.

Maguire was an unused substitute for the Three Lions in Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland at Wembley, but could return to the team against Ivory Coast on Tuesday.

Conor Coady, Ben White, and debutant Marc Guehi started as England played a back three in their comeback win over Switzerland, with Maguire earning criticism in recent weeks for his role in the Red Devils' underwhelming campaign.

Despite acknowledging that Maguire is going through a "difficult moment" with his club, Southgate reasserted his belief in the 29-year-old's quality.

With Maguire's club team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho left out of the Three Lions party for the March internationals, Southgate also highlighted the increased depth England possess in the forward areas.

"In terms of selection, it's always a difficult conundrum, because we've got players who we know have performed well in an England shirt," Southgate said. "[But] there's got to be some level of scrutiny on how people are playing for their clubs. 

"Everybody has a view on who we should or shouldn't be picking, in the end we need the best players possible, playing at their best level, to have a chance of winning.

"He [Maguire] has got us to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final, so there's no doubt that he's capable of playing at the very highest level. 

"The club [United] are in a difficult moment, and there could be any number of reasons for that. 

"That doesn't mean that players can be poor for a couple of years and still find their way in, [but] it also depends on competition for positions, we've left some forward players out who haven't been in good form, but there are experienced replacements for those players."

Meanwhile, Southgate would not reveal whether captain Harry Kane would start against Ivory Coast, praising the Tottenham star's attitude after he drew level with Bobby Charlton's tally of 49 goals for the Three Lions.

Kane is now joint-second in England's all-time goalscoring charts, just four goals shy of Wayne Rooney's record haul of 53 goals, but Southgate hinted that he could choose to look at other options against The Elephants.

"If he had his way he'd play 90 minutes of every fixture," the England boss added. "Which is a brilliant quality to have, because if you're the captain, and want to be at every camp, playing every minute of every game, that sets the tone for everything else.

"The fact is, we've got a good squad, we want to keep people involved and give people opportunities, we need to see certain things across the week, to see how people can play at this level.

"I'll let Ivory Coast find out [whether Kane will start] when we put the team sheet out!"

Gareth Southgate understands why Wilfried Zaha chose to switch his international allegiance to Ivory Coast, with the England manager unsure of what the winger's role might have been with the Three Lions.

Zaha made two friendly appearances for England back in 2012 and 2013, but he was not picked by Southgate when he took over in 2016, despite impressing after his return to Crystal Palace.

The forward eventually elected to play for Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Zaha has gone on to play in 11 of Ivory Coast's 12 matches across the past three Africa Cup of Nations, scoring twice in the 2019 edition, although he has only turned out twice in World Cup qualifiers. Ivory Coast failed to advance to Qatar 2022.

The 29-year-old is in fine form, having scored 10 goals across all competitions for Patrick Vieira's Palace side this season – just one shy of matching his best total for the club, set last season – and will now get the chance to go up against England when the Three Lions host Ivory Coast at Wembley on Tuesday.

"He's a talent," Southgate told reporters when asked about Zaha. "He's a good player playing at a high level every week.

"He felt the Ivory Coast was the route to go and I totally understood that. It's hard to say what his role might have been with us.

"Raheem [Sterling] has been a key part of our team for a long period, Jesse Lingard had done a fabulous job and, at the start, we had Adam Lallana, who was our player of the year for the first 18 months or so."

 

Southgate coached Zaha while he was in charge of England Under-21s and conceded it was a hard time for the then Manchester United winger.

"When we had him with the Under-21s he was in the middle of a very difficult spell both with Manchester United and then on loan with Cardiff," said Southgate, who explained that he never doubted Zaha's commitment or desire to play.

"I remember being asked at the time – and we were asked about a few different cases – and I said players have to have the desire to play for England.

"That was slightly tweaked a bit, I would say, so that created a little bit of an atmosphere with Wilf and [Palace chairman] Steve Parish for a while.

"That wasn't an insinuation on Wilf – you couldn't have a more passionate player, as anyone who follows Crystal Palace knows."

Aurelien Tchouameni experienced a "beautiful" moment in his career with his first France goal, but he is now keen to move onto his next objective. 

After establishing himself at Monaco in the 2020-21 season, Tchouameni has been producing consistently excellent displays in the heart of their midfield.

Since the start of 2021, he ranks third across all players in the top five European leagues in terms of possession won (387) and tackles won (83), while he is joint-second in terms of duels won (408).

Tchouameni was unsurprisingly drafted into the France set-up by Didier Deschamps last year, while the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid have all been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old. 

He opened his senior international account in his eighth appearance with a last-gasp winner in a 2-1 success over Ivory Coast on Friday but was keen to keep his feet on the ground. 

"It's the fruit of my labour. I hope to remain calm. It's beautiful what's happening to me, but I have goals. Scoring my first goal was one, so now we move onto something else," Tchouameni told M6. 

"The team and the staff really help me show my personality on the pitch and that's what makes me feel great on the pitch. 

"In the first half, we attacked a lot and Ivory Coast had the opportunity to break through on the counter. We tightened the screws in the second half and I don't think we even conceded a single chance. 

"At the end we were rewarded, and that's good." 

Tchouameni's winner came after Olivier Giroud cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's opener in his first France appearance since Euro 2020. 

The goal will have boosted Giroud's chances of retaining his place in Didier Deschamps' squad ahead of the World Cup in Qatar later this year. 

"He did what he does with his club. He always has this quality of scoring, especially in the air. Of course, it made him happy," said Deschamps. 

"He returned to the group, which he knows well, and it was all the better for us. 

"When we have friendlies we must take advantage of them. There will be a second on Tuesday [against South Africa], so I will make changes to distribute the playing time to the maximum number of players." 

France have now won six straight games for the first time since 2016 and are undefeated in their past 19, scoring 43 goals during that run. 

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