PARIS, March 30 — At the age of 23, Kylian Mbappe is already past the halfway mark as he chases Thierry Henry’s all-time goal scoring record with the French national team.
The Paris St Germain forward took his tally to 26 after netting a double in a 5-0 demolition of South Africa yesterday.
At his age, Henry had scored only eight goals before ending his international career with 51 after 123 appearances with Les Bleus.
“The goal (scoring record) is a goal. I’ve always wanted to be the first. In the national (side) and with my club,” said Mbappe.
“What Titi (Henry) did, nobody did it but it can happen and sooner than one would think.”
After missing last Friday’s friendly against Ivory Coast with an ENT infection, Mbappe managed 12 shots in a sterling performance against South Africa.
He was also involved in Olivier Giroud and Wissam Ben Yedder’s goals and set up Matteo Guendouzi for the fifth in stoppage time after scoring his ninth goal in his last five France appearances.
“When you play with him, you play with 12 men,” said South Africa coach Hugo Broos.
“I told you he was radiant. That was the reality. His legs were on fire,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
“He would have loved to have played the first game on Friday. His ability to accelerate and score makes him a standout player. But he also has the intelligence to be part of a collective on and off the pitch.”
That might be Mbappe’s biggest challenge as he has been assuming a more creative role which is usually fulfilled by Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid forward missed the two games through injury but his return will hand Deschamps a welcome headache.
Giroud’s comeback is also giving him food for thought as the AC Milan striker found the back of the net twice in a sign that the former Chelsea player can never be overlooked.
Giroud now has 48 international goals and at this rate, it could well be his record, rather than Henry’s, that Mbappe will be looking to overhaul. — Reuters