Football

Gignac insists France are ‘still in the battle’ as they aim to keep Olympic dream alive

The Tigres UANL striker was the hero for his country against South Africa as he scored a hat-trick in their 4-3 victory

Andre-Pierre Gignac insists France are “still in the battle” for Olympic gold after winning their second Group A fixture on Sunday.

Les Bleus bounced back from their opening 4-1 defeat to Mexico by seeing off South Africa in dramatic fashion.

Gignac netted a stunning second-half hat-trick before Teji Savanier popped up to score a late stoppage-time winner and seal a 4-3 victory for Sylvain Ripoll’s side.

What’s been said?

Gignac expressed his delight after the final whistle, telling reporters in his post-match interview: “There is a burst of pride, a little ego too and we win. It’s a victory that feels good and brings us together.”

The Tigres UANL striker added on France’s chances of going on to win the tournament: “It won’t be easy because there has been an incredible burst of energy, but with such a young and talented group, we can do something. 

“We paid the price against Mexico, against a ready team that has been preparing for three months, always coming to the Games to do something big. We are here for the first time since 1996 but we are there, still in the battle.”

France come through South Africa test

After a goalless first half, Kobamelo Kodisang gave South Africa a surprise lead in the 53rd minute only for Gignac to level four minutes later.

South Africa regained their one-goal advantage through Evidence Makgopa before Gignac equalised again 12 minutes from time, and the 35-year-old stepped up again after Teboho Mokoena made the scoreline 3-2.

Gignac’s third goal came from the penalty spot to set up a tense finale, with France ultimately emerging victorious thanks to a superb last gasp low drive from Savanier.

France will now look ahead to a meeting with Japan on Wednesday, which they must win to make certain of a place in the quarter-finals.

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