At first, no one saw her. The French camp was at the bedside of Charlotte Bilbault, hit in a shock and who suffered from the leg (13th). No one had seen her race stop a few moments earlier in the area, those hands that are on her right knee and that grimace that was never going to leave her. After a few unsteady steps, Marie-Antoinette Katoto almost collapsed in the central circle and the faces of Les Bleues, staff and players, froze. Everyone actually dreaded this image.

The day before this match against Belgium on Thursday (2-1), during the last training session for Les Bleues, stalled in Ashby-de-le-Zouch, the center-forward of the France team had already been on the ground after a clash with Eve Périsset. It was only a simple blow, but still painful, to the point that Katoto wore blue straps on his right knee. The one that twisted after a few minutes “The two events have nothing to do with each other, explained Corinne Deacon after Thursday’s game. Wednesday was a hit. This evening (Thursday), there is a twist. I’m not a doctor and we’ll wait for the diagnosis, but for now, it’s a sprained knee. »

Marie-Antoinette Katoto, during the French anthem before France-Belgium. (B. Cremel/The Team)

The Bleues doctor quickly got to work at the bedside of the PSG striker by manipulating his knee, to check the condition of the ligaments. Katoto ended up walking out grimacing. Deacon hugged her and, after managing her substitution, came back to check on her attacker, dropping a “damn… piss off” walking back to his bench, which spoke volumes about his embarrassment and frustration. And if Katoto reappeared in the second period, it was by supporting herself on crutches and with a large pocket of ice around her knee.

The race against time is on for Katoto

The blow is very hard for the Blues. On the ground, the partners seemed a little confused. “It’s never easy to lose a teammate during a match,” explained Delphine Cascarino. “I didn’t immediately feel the players drop their feet, commented Corinne Deacon. It was a little later that we had a weak time. »

Ouleymata Sarr, who replaced Katoto, was not unworthy, but she missed all her chances to score. Beyond the match against Belgium, it is the entire competition of Les Bleues which will be suspended at the knee of the Parisian. The degree of severity of the sprain will be determined this Friday and the result will be a length of absence. Katoto is obviously at rest.

Ouleymata Sarr, against Belgium. (B. Cremel/The Team)

Ouleymata Sarr, against Belgium. (B. Cremel/The Team)

For how long ? The match against Iceland on Monday is already forgotten, especially since it doesn’t really count anymore, the first place in Group D having already been secured. The quarter-final is set six days later, on July 23, and the eventual semi-final on July 27. A race against time is on. We can’t do without a player who has scored 26 goals in 31 caps so easily.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto hit in the knee against Belgium, the blow for the Blue