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In August, the French teenaged-striker Amine Gouiri retweeted a video of Karem Benzema fooling Gerard Pique with a classic step-over dribble in the Spanish Super Cup. It was titled: Benzema a détruit Piqué (Benzema destroyed Pique). For a few years now, Gouiri, the top-scorer in this FIFA U-17 World Cup, has been compared with Benzema. It’s been said the fluidity in the movement down the flank, the ball sense, and the quick release is similar. Gouiri has made it clear that he wants to be his own man, but they aren’t really leaving him alone.
He left an indelible impression again Japan on Wednesday with his knack of materialising at scoring positions and also the ability to not hog but coordinate well with other forwards. Both led to the two goals that sunk Japan who were left gasping at the sudden power surge, and quick releases.
It all started in the 13th minute with a little bit of help from the referee. The free ball in Japan’s half clipped his back heel as he ran across, and tipped it to the open. France swooped in. A good aerial ball from Maxence Caqueret swooshed across towards the left flank where Gouiri seized control. He plummeted rapidly past the defender, cut across into the box, earned himself some space, and right-footed it to the far corner, well to the left of the goalkeeper.
The second goal in the next half stood out for the coordination between Gouiri and the creative playmaker Yacine Adli. Both burst through the defences with three quick passes between them, which came with a little bit of flair from Gouiri. It wasn’t the Benzema step-over, but a back heel tap back to Adli who nonchalantly clipped it to Gouiri who finished the job without any fuss. Japan reduced the deficit with Taisei Miyashiro converting a penalty.
Japan had more possession but France controlled the game, primarily through Gouiri. At the end of the Japan game, he talked a bit about his strategy: “We wanted to surprise them with our speed, and we did that. I am confident France can go a long way in this tournament.”
Benzema a détruit Piqué 😭😭😭😭pic.twitter.com/kLSLeFTQPO
— Muz (@Afghan_7) 13 August 2017
Growing up in Bergoine-Jallieu region of Paris, it was the 2006 World Cup that made him dream about playing for France, and he impressed the coaches from a young age. His athleticism, technical skills and mental ease made him stand out from the rest of the pack. The scouts from Olympique Lyonnais club came calling, and he made rapid progress.
Last year, the Lyon coach Bruno Genesio called him over to practice with the main team. The boy was going to play with men, and he was fascinated by the entire process. He arrived two weeks before a match, and soaked in everything. “When the more experienced pros learned I was born in 2000, they were a little shocked,” Amine told francefootball.fr. “Everything impressed me: On the field, in the locker room, the preparation, warm-up, chatting. It grew on me very fast. I have the ambition.” That taste has left him yearning for more, and he is making rapid strides.
Armand Garrido, in charge of young footballers at Lyon, summed him up: “He exudes a certain power for 17-year old boy. Amine has a special profile. He is not a Kanoute, a Benzema or a Martial. He has a little bit of everything.”