With such a first name, difficult to miss. Yes, Marie-Antoinette Katoto is called to reign. Like the Archduchess of Austria, everything happened very quickly. Because the native of Colombes is made like this: she is a force of nature, an athlete born with above-average physical qualities and a predestination at the highest level who quickly jumped out in the eyes of all those who saw her. have crossed paths.
“The first time I saw her was a diamond in the roughrecalls Gilles Eyquem, coach of women’s youth teams (U19, U20) for many years. I also had this feeling with Claire Lavogez who finally experienced another trajectory. Marie-Antoinette is even more steeped in qualities, with an extraordinary physique, a character much calmer, more consensual, more rigorous in the game. From the start, she was a player of great talent“.
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Quickly, all eyes turn to her. Launched into the professional deep end at PSG, her lifelong club, at 16, she quickly confirmed all the hopes placed in her at Euro U19 2016. Six goals and the impression that Katoto was going to follow a Mbappé-like trajectory, to which it is always tirelessly compared. Appointed captain of the U20s for the 2018 World Cup, she nevertheless misses it completely. His missed penalty in the semi-final against Spain sends him to the bench for the third place match and leaves Eyquem thinking, at the time, about the real capacities of “MAK” for the very high level.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto after her missed penalty against Spain in 2018
Credit: Getty Images
“The players who lacked determination were on the bench, I thinkhe explains, disappointed, at the end of the competition. Those who did not fully understand what the France team represented. The disappointment is there. There were things that came to disturb a little bit. Maybe I was wrong at the start about who should have been the leader“.
A posteriori, the U20 coach at the time puts words to the great criticism long addressed to Katoto: his lack of impact in major events. “From now on, it is more striking on the big meetingshe acknowledges. We can count on her, but as a youngster it was not always easy. Where we expected her, she was not always present. Maybe she was young compared to her potential. I expected a lot from her, maybe a little too fast“.
Deacon in 2019: “There are things that are incomprehensible”
It’s a bit like the story of his career. Shy, almost sickly, Katoto must assume that everyone is only looking at her. His great debut in the national team in October 2018 suggests that the story is all traced. But Corinne Deacon is not the type to give in to fashion. Four days before a friendly against the USA in January 2019, where a tenure is a possibility given her form at PSG, the French coach publicly lights up the young player.
“She will have to think carefully about what she wants, there are things that are incomprehensibleexplains Deacon at a press conference. With what I saw this morning, she is absolutely not a contender for a starting position. This morning it was very difficult for her, she needs to do more. It’s not just about focus, I’m talking about athletic performance“. The train for the World Cup in France inevitably leaves without her, despite her undeniable talent.
Back in the group in October 2019, Katoto is humble, discreet and hardworking. “I understood what she was asking me“, she explains then in reference to Deacon. The time of her national takeover has arrived. From autumn 2019 to summer 2022, she plays 26 matches with the Blue. For 24 goals. Now, there is no longer any debate: she will be a starter for this Euro and even the main offensive argument of the tricolor troop.
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“I have rarely seen such a strong attacker”
“She has established herself as the number 1 striker of the France team“, also assumed the coach of the Blue when drawing up her list of 23 before hoping that the pressure which will weigh on her shoulders for this Euro is not likely to disorient her. A factor which does not worry Laure Boulleau, sports coordinator of PSG, who has seen the scorer evolve for many years in the capital.
“She is very focusedshe explained to us. If it works well for her, it is because she is aware of her qualities. When you’re an exceptional athlete, you really have to have that self-confidence. We see it in the big current stars, Mbappé obviously, but even Zlatan if we want to go into excess of confidence. Even if she is shy, I know that she has confidence in herself, in the fact that she is able to rock the matches“.
“It is clearly the X factor of the Bluesconfirms Boulleau. Even in our time, we have never had such a complete player up front. I have rarely seen such a strong attacker. The USA had Abby Wambach at the time… When you have a striker, tall, who scores a lot of goals, with both feet, with her head, you have a lot more chances. She’s the one who can make us win the competition“. No doubt, if Katoto wants to leave her princess costume of world football to become queen, this Euro looks like the ideal turning point. History to establish a less disputed reign than others having borne the same first name.
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