By Beng Emmanuel
Coton Sport’s survival from a scary group at the CAF Confederation Cup was unexpected, after the team made their comeback to the group stage of the elite club competition in 2021. They had been absent from the competition for six years. But now they could cruise to the quarter-finals untroubled and go on to win the trophy.
Such predictions may not receive support during this early stage of the competition. At least, not for everyone. But the resurgence of the League one side in the CAF Confederation Cup recently is largely commendable.
Coton Sport of Garoua have been unstoppable lately. Frequent commanding displays and routine wins have made them top of their group, only a step away from reaching the quarterfinals of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Their recent 5-1 thrashing of NAPSA Stars last Sunday during match day four in Garoua, proved they have the pedigree to excel. In fact, the host looked too good, played with class and never felt outplayed at any stage.
But can this revival help Coton Sport confirm their place for the quarter-final when they host JS Kabylie next week.
Picking up from broken pieces
Coton Sport’s six year wait to reach the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup, had no hint of bliss. On the contrary, there were six years of constant struggles and prolonged patience.
Between 2013/2014, when they quit the apex of continental football, they won two championship titles in 2015 and 2018. They were runner-up in 2019. However, there was nothing to show for these exploits, after frequent disappointments in the preliminaries of CAF competitions.
Regarded as the most powerful club in the country, it was ultimately disappointing. The club’s demanding hierarchy had decided to revamp the squad. An effort that eventually paid-off. Coton sport currently has one of the greatest spins in Cameroon football with several highly rated footballers. And it is getting better with proper organization.
When Coton Sport qualified for the CAF Confederation Cup, there were huge concerns on their fate during the preliminaries. The country’s domestic championship had been inactive for several months and they resorted to friendly matches for their build-up. The outcomes of their previous stints ruled them off the sheets of favourites. But they remained confident about heading to the preliminaries.
Without the Elite one championship, Coton Sport advanced to the group stage of the Confederation Cup after five wins and a defeat. Their worries faded to confidence. Signs of a new dawn became more glaring. But all these led to a bigger challenge which required bigger performances and results.
Coton Sport’s rise to the top
In their group B opener, Coton Sport lost 0-1 to JS Kabylie after conceding a late goal in Algeria. The defeat ended their four successive wins.
They needed to continue winning. They returned back to winning consistently by beating Yong Sport Academy of Bamenda 2-0 in their Elite one opening fixture at home. That marked a turning point to the team, and gave them increase confidence and believe.
Four days later, they hosted CAF CC champions RS Berkane and beat them 2-0 to return to winning ways. But were carried away by the euphoria and lost to Panthere of Nde 2-3 despite a late fight back.
They almost suffered a second successive defeat in the league to TKC but came from behind to thrash them 4-1. That followed a slim 1-0 win away to NAPSA Stars in Lusaka before their latest 5-1 demolition of the Zambian outfit.
As a team, Coton Sport have been decisive. In four games, the fifteen time league one champions scored eight goals and conceded just twice. Individually, there is much to write home about.
Narcisse Nlend is among the top 5 goalkeepers so far with two clean sheets. Marou Souibou has scored twice and registered two assists. Sibiri Sanou has also been exceptional. He has been on target twice. Other talents like Felix Oukine and Nguime Araina have been inspiring.
Can revival spur early qualification?
With two games left against JS Kabylie at home on April 21 and finally RS Berkane on April 28 in Morocco, Coton Sport is poised to replicate their scintillating performance to reach the quarter-finals.
The head coach of Coton Sport of Garoua Aboubakar Souleymanou says they need to work hard to attain their objectives.
“We are trying to go far in this competition. The championship is on. It is not the end. Two matches are left we still have to play. We will give our best to reach the quarterfinal”-coach Souleymanou said on state media CRTV.
With their next fixture on home soil, the Garoua base outfit have a chance to seal it early. They have been exceptionally prolific in this season’s CAF Confederation Cup. They are certainly aiming for another master-class against JS Kabylie-whom they lost to on match day one.
“We are morally free when we play at home. The players can express themselves without difficulties better than they did during the last match in Zambia. The only thing to do is to play”- Coton Sport’s coach said.
Coton Sport could be on their way to a glorious campaign. The came close to winning the trophy in 2003 but lost in the final to Raja Casablanca.