France’s Caqueret happy to keep a low profile

  • Maxence Caqueret had a hand in three of Les Bleuets' seven goals against New Caledonia

  • Wears the No10 jersey for his country but plays in a deeper position for his club

  • France face Japan next, with top spot in Group E at stake

You could have been forgiven for not noticing Maxence Caqueret's emerge from the France dressing room following his side's 7-1 demolition of New Caledonia in their opening match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. While his team-mates Yahia Fofana, Willem Geubbels, Yacine Adli, Oumar Solet, Wilson Isidor, Bryan Bernard and Illan Meslier are all over 5’11 (1.80m) tall, Caqueret gives away at least 10cm to all of them.

The opposite was true just a few minutes earlier on the pitch at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, where the No10 stood very tall indeed, whether he was winning the ball back, creating play or shooting on goal. Seemingly everywhere, Caqueret did virtually everything and did it well, playing a part in the build-up for his side’s second and fourth goals - supplying Yacine Adli, so that he could assist Amine Gouiri on both occasions - and then scoring the fifth.

What they say about him “He’s a machine. He wins the ball back, he launches attacks, he can score goals and he can set them up too.”* *Armand Garrido, Caqueret’s coach at Olympique Lyonnais

“He really puts a lot into it. He gets through a lot of work and he’s got a very pure technique. He scraps for the ball too and he can take out a whole defensive line with a single pass or a dribble.” Gerard Bonneau, head of youth recruitment at Olympique Lyonnais

“I felt pretty good out there and a lot of things came off for me,” said Caqueret, in conversation with after his side’s seven-goal romp. “There’s no such thing as an easy match though. We made this one look easy because we got an early goal and turned things our way pretty quickly. The reason why we got all those goals today, though, was because we played as a team,” he added, showing the modesty that explains why he is happy to stay in the shadow of his attack-minded team-mates, who made the absolute most of the No10’s vision.

Areas for improvement That understanding was clear to see in their rampant first-half performance on Sunday. The French then eased off the accelerator in a second half, in which the goals stopped flowing and Caqueret even missed a penalty. That failed spot-kick perhaps explains why he is keeping his feet on the ground.

“We wanted to put our foot on the ball after the break, but we relaxed a bit and weren’t able to keep the goals coming,” he lamented. “It’s a shame but we’re going to keep trying to improve for the next match and to put in a consistent performance over the 90 minutes.”

That next match will come against a Japan side that dazzled the fans in Guwahati with their stylish 6-1 defeat of Honduras. The unfazed Caqueret is nevertheless determined that France should treat every team the same: “Every opponent is tough and we take them all seriously. Brazil, Spain, Japan or New Caledonia: it’s all the same to us. You always have to win.”

And if France keep on winning, then Caqueret will not be so easy to overlook amid his towering team-mates.