France's group stage campaign of the 2022 FIFA World Cup had an unexpected conclusion, as Tunisia beat them 1-0, but Ibrahima Konate still had something to celebrate.
The centre-back, who started the game, had a stormer in defence. He completed more than ten tackles in the defeat, a feat not recorded by any player in this edition of the World Cup.
Konate was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal showing from Les Bleus, who fielded a significantly weakened team, with all key players starting on the bench.
With qualification to the knockouts already secured, manager Didier Deschamps opted to make wholesale changes to his XI that beat Denmark in their previous game.
Tunisia made the most of that by exerting dominance and securing a famous victory through Wahbi Khazri's 58th minute winner. However, that wasn't enough to take them to the knockouts.
Australia's 1-0 win over Denmark in the other game meant the Eagles of Carthage went out of the competition with four points after finishing third in Group D.
As far as Konate is concerned, the RB Leipzig star has made a strong case to keep his place in the starting lineup for France's last-16 clash with Poland on Sunday (December 4).
He faces tough competition from veteran Raphael Varane, while Bayern Munich's Dayot Upamecano is also in the running. SoDeschamps has a big decision to make this weekend.
France out to make amends against Poland, says Konate
Konate said that France weren't at the level that was required of them last night but vowed to fight back in their next game. Speaking after the loss to Tunisia, he said (via Mirror):
"I hate losing. There won't be any favours this weekend; it'll be a match and that's it. I can't say there were too many changes – if we're here today, we can't go with that excuse."
"We weren't at the level required; we were too wasteful. We need to concentrate on the next game, come together and forget this little error. Whether that's against Mexico, Argentina, or whoever, it's going to be a difficult match."
France will take on Poland at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday, looking to keep alive their hopes of becoming only the third team to successfully defend their World Cup title.