• Coton Sport of Garoua are through to the quarter-final of the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time since 2014.
By Beng Emmanuel
Cameroon League one giants Coton Sport have advanced the quarter-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup despite losing to JS Kabylie 1-2 at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua on Wednesday.
The results which meant that the fifteen-time Elite one champions should have won their last game against RS Berkane on April 28 to qualify for the knock-out stage, was made more of a formality after NAPSA Stars stunned defending CAF Confederation Cup RS Berkane 1-0 in Zambia.
Initially the fifteen-time Elite one champions needed to win the last group game against RS Berkane on April 28 to qualify for the knock-out stage.
But defending CAF Confederation Cup RS Berkane’s shocking defeat against Zambia’s NAPSA Stars on Wednesday, handed them a ticket to the quarterfinals.
Doisy Soko scored the winner in the second half as NAPSA Stars recorded their first win since the start of the competition. But they remained bottom of the group only a point from RS Berkane who won’t be defending their title.
It is the first time since 2014 that Coton Sport has reached the knockout phase of the competition after making their comeback to the group stage of the Inter-club competition in 2021.
They have now marked their return with a remarkable feat and are on course to claim the trophy. They finished runners-up in 2003.
Coton Sport joins leaders JS Kabylie to qualify from group B.
Coton Sport runs out of luck but qualification obtained
The road has been rough for Coton Sport. But Wednesday defeat in Garoua-a venue which has become their fortress lately was largely unexpected. Nevertheless, the sorrow faded to joy and excitement after obtain a quarter-final ticket.
This defeat almost jeopardized their chances of reaching the quarter-finals which stood as their primary objectives. To many, the defeat is surprising, even still shocking, considering that they had been on an excellent run lately. They scored five goals in their last home game against NAPSA Stars. But today, there were far from their best.
A simple draw was enough to see them through. But unexpectedly, they failed to fully capitalize on it. Their defeat to Jeuness Sportive of Kabylie, means their four match unbeaten run is over. They scored twelve (12) goals in the process. And there were hopes, their new form will guide them to the knockout stage. Eventually it did.
Surprisingly, the last time they lost a CAF Cup game was against JS Kabylie on March 10th, during their group B opener in Algeria. But the game was a contrast although with the same outcome.
With this qualification, the club hopes to become a genuine title contender for the trophy they came close to winning in 2003.
Dramatic! Coton Sport triumph despite defeat
Coton Sport’s qualification to the quarter-final of the CAF confederation Cup was confirmed despite losing their round five fixture to JS Kabylie 1-2 in Garoua on Wednesday.
What was considered impossible turned out to be a miracle which sent fans wild with excitement.
JS Kabylie scored two quick second half goals within six minutes to regain their lead at the top of group B level on points with Coton Sport. Reda Benyayah opened the scoring from a well taken strike at the 63rd minute, before Mohamed Walid Bencherifa doubled the advantage five minutes later.
But substitute Francis Tombi Alemi struggled to pull one back after converting a late penalty. Unfortunately, Coton Sport couldn’t avoid an eventual defeat.
The host were reduced to ten men after Sibiri Sanou was sent off shortly after the second half began. He had been booked only fifteen (15) minutes into the first half, and committed another foul during the second half to seal his fate.
It is a defeat which comes with plenty of regrets despite a resilient fight to get a draw for Coton Sport. Their usual composure and momentum was absent. Despite being in full control of the game during the first half, they failed to dispatch their struggling opponents although they created good chances.
Their tempo soon fizzled out in the second half especially after being reduced to 10-men. They managed to survive pressure mounted by a now motivated JS Kabylie side eager for victory after two quick goals.
A possible comeback from the Cameroonian side seemed very unlikely, until Francis Tombi Alemi halved the deficit from the spot.
Any further attempt during the last minutes of the game to salvage a point were rendered fruitless by an ever present JS Kabylie defence
Coton Sport late fight back not enough
Coton Sport seemed more likely to win the game considering their run in this season’s CAF Confederation Cup. They seemed very confident during their start, but were marred by mislaid passes, general hesitancy and indecent finishes.
Their main marksman Lambert Gueme Araina was less prolific. Other key figures like Marou Souibou, Sibiri Sanou, Felix Oukine, Thomas Etta Bawak and Thierry Tchuente who returned to the team had a difficult game.
The host were the first to make known their intentions when Marou Souibou raced from the flanks to set-up Lambert Gueme Araina, but the promising starlet failed to make it count with his failed one touch finish. Herve Ngono’s free header was largely off target, although the defender had managed to create some space for a decent effort.
Minutes later, Gueme Araina had the chance to find the breakthrough, but strangely missed target. The ball had come-off from his chest after a poor clearance at the edge of the box by Kabylie’s defence but his slight touch from the outside of his boots was pushed by Oussama Benbot.
Felix Oukine’s 50th minute long range effort, was the best they could get in the second half until Sibiri Sanou was sent off after being booked twice. With a numerical disadvantage, Coton Sport began to pay the price for such carelessness.
Reda Bensayah broke the deadlock from Mohamed Benchaira’s fine assist before Mohamed Walid turned in the second five minutes later. The visitors had fought their way to obtain the lead and could have caused more damage but Narcisse Nlend was forced to action with a string of fantastic saves.
On one of these occasions, 29-year-old shot-stopper stretched wide and produced a world class save to keep out a free-kick from their rivals. He had performed the same magic in the first half when he promptly intervened to save Badreddine Souyad’s header.
Despite trailing, coach Aboubakar Soulemanou never gave up the fight. Boubkari Dairou, Jean Rosis Okoumou, Richard Ebongue were brought in to rekindled hopes. They found their reward when Francis Tombi Alemi came off the bench to convert a penalty at the 89th minute but failed to inspire his team to a comeback.
This is Coton Sport second defeat in the CAF Confederation Cup during this season. They have dropped to second only one point clear of RS Berkane whom they face in their next fixture.
Coton Sport will face defending champions RS Berkane in the final group game. But there are no stakes involved since they are already qualified. However, the Cameroonian side will have to make up for the defeat in Garoua and end the first phase with positive results.
They beat RS Berkane 2-0 on match day two in Garoua and hope to complete a double to seal their qualification. JS Kabylie face NAPSA Stars in the other game.
Coton Sport 1-2 JS Kabylie
Francis Tombi 89’/Reda Bensayah 63’, Mohamed Walid B. 68’
CAF Confederation Cup
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