Friday, December 8, 2023

Jules Kounde and Ibrahima Konate were unable to celebrate with the France players after beating Morocco

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Jules Kounde and Ibrahima Konate were noticeably absent from France’s post-match celebrations after reaching the World Cup final.

Didier Deschamps’ side ran out 2-0 winners over Morocco on Wednesday evening to seal their second successive appearance in the final.

Goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani in either half were enough to set up a mammoth clash with Argentina on Sunday afternoon.

It was a comfortable victory for France, who made two changes from their quarter-final win over England.

Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot were ill, which gave Konate and Youssouf Fofana starts in defence and central midfield.

Liverpool man Konate impressed at the back alongside Raphael Varane, making several vital blocks.

Kounde continued his fine tournament at right-back, a position he’s become comfortable with at Barcelona this season.

Both men were unable to enjoy the celebrations with their teammates immediately after the full-time whistle.

Konate and Kounde were forced to give samples after being pulled in for anti-doping tests.

“We can’t even celebrate,” Konate said as he filmed his teammate inside the Al Bayt Stadium. “It sucks,” a downbeat Kounde replied. Check out the video below.

France took an early lead through Hernandez after some fine work from Antoine Griezmann. He ended up causing mayhem in the Morocco box, which allowed Hernandez to bundle home an acrobatic effort.

Morocco refused to give up despite also losing first-choice central defender Romain Saiss to injury in the first half.

They lacked a cutting edge up front however, something France used to their advantage while sucking up pressure.

11 minutes from time, Kolo Muani tapped home a deflected Kylian Mbappe strike to seal the win.

Deschamps expressed his delight at the result in his post-match press conference, stressing his team needs to take one final step to retain their trophy.

France could become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups.

“There’s emotion, there’s pride, there’s going to be a final step,” he told reporters.

“We have been together with the players for a month, it’s never easy. There’s happiness so far.”

Standing in their way is an Argentina side spearheaded by Lionel Messi. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has been a man on a mission so far, in his final World Cup as a player.

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