August 3, 2021
1 MATCH, 10 DEBUTS
In the 1-1 friendly draw with AC Milan, 10 ten members of the Rouge et Noir squad made their Allianz Riviera debuts.
KLUIVERT, ROSARIO, LEMINA: THE FIRST STEPS
This trio was one of the big attractions at this final friendly hit out. While Calvin Stengs (hamstring), had already turned out for Les Aiglons (against Kiev and Berlin), Justin Kluivert, Pablo Rosario and Mario Lemina did likewise against i Rossoneri. The three men, officially presented to the media last Tuesday, made their official debuts for Le Gym just eight days before the start of the Ligue 1 season, next Sunday at 15:00 vs Reims.
In the starting line-up, Justin Kluivert impressed on the left side of Christophe Galtier’s 4-4-2 before making way at half-time.
Partnering Khephren Thuram and then Mario Lemina in the middle of the park, Pablo Rosario played with leadership and maturity for 80 minutes.
The Gabon international was introduced for the final 19 minutes, and played with focus and determination.
DA CUNHA, SMITH, AMRAOUI: 3 FIRSTS AT ALLIANZ
All three appeared in each of the preseason matches. But this final game was obviously extra special for these youngsters aged just 17 (Ayoub Amraoui), 18 (Justin Smith) and 20 (Lucas Da Cunha). The defenders, stepping up from the Gym academy and the winger, back from a loan at Lausanne-Sports, played for the first time at Allianz Riviera.
Lucas Da Cunha had promised to ‘give it everything on the pitch’. The 9,000 fans in attendance certainly appreciated his high-intensity performance and the two chances he had in the first half, before being replaced 20 minutes from the end.
Central defender Amraoui has often appeared at left-back during preseason. This time the coach played him higher up the pitch on the left wing for the last six minutes of the match. With the No.34 on his back, he showed his appreciation to the Sud fans at the final whistle.
A midfielder coming through the youth ranks, Smith impressed last season in the centre of defence with the reserves. Introduced with ten minutes left to play, he was back in midfield as Khephren Thuram dropped back into defence (as explained by Christophe Galtier).
LOTOMBA & MYZIANE LAUNCH THEIR SEASONS
Back in training with the rest of the squad this week, Jordan Lotomba (Euro quarter-finalist) and Myziane (groin surgery at the end of last season) finally got their respective seasons underway.
Coming on at half-time, the former Lyon man brought his pace to the Nice attack. One of his accelerations started the move that saw Ndoye earn a penalty, converted by Gouiri.
20 minutes under the belt for Jordan Lotomba, on the right wing, ahead of Flavius Daniliuc.
TODIBO, A FIRST IN FRONT OF THE NICE FANS
While the 2020 summer signings had already played in front of small crowds (1,000-capacity crowds authorised against Lille and Nantes in Autumn), JC Todibo was yet to be applauded by his new supporters. After signing last winter, the former Barça man got to see first-hand the passion of the Nice faithful.
Partnering Dante and then Thuram, Todibo was one of five players to play the full 90 minutes on Saturday alongside Benitez, Kamara, Thuram and Ndoye.
GOUIRI, 1st PRE-SEASON goal
The 2020-21 Aiglon of the Year has opened his account. After hitting Mike Maignan’s post with a free-kick, the Nice No.11 beat Ciprian Tatarusanu in the second half. His former OL teammates went the right way, but Gouiri’s shot was powerful enough to score. The perfect way to build confidence ahead of his second season in Rouge et Noir!
Amine went off to a standing ovation after 84 minutes.
A FIRST FOR MÈFI AS WELL!
Mèfi also got his 2021-22 campaign underway! The emblematic eagle received a fantastic welcome from Allianz Riviera for his first flight of the new season.