By Beng Emmanuel
Coton Sport suffered a huge setback in their pursuit of their maiden continental silverware after losing 1-2 to JS Kabylie in the first leg semi-final of the CAF Confederation Cup at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium on Sunday.
Ahmed Mohamed cancelled out Lambert Gueme Araina’s opener before Etame Ngombe’s second half own goal handed the North Africans a crucial away win.
Coton Sport went into the game with memories of their group stage defeats against JS Kabylie. They looked eager to take control of the tie but the Elite one giant were overwhelmed by their opponents in the opening minutes. They had a difficult start coupled with several mislaid passes and hasty choices.
Mohamed Benchaira squandered the first big chance of the game after a patient build-up when his powerful strike went over the crossbar. The visitors kept pouring forward and missed two other key opportunities to enable them take the lead.
Coton Sport who had gone close to midway through the first half without a single effort recovered from the sluggish start.
Lambert Gueme Araina rose highest to head Arnaud Sibiri’s free-kick to help his side take the lead before the half hour mark. Malik Raiah thought he had levelled scores few minutes later, but his goal was ruled out for offside by the Video Assistant referee.
JS Kabylie continued to mount more pressure for the equalizer before the break. The Algerians were rewarded with the last efforts of the first half when Ahmed Mohamed headed home Ahmed Ait Abdesslem corner kick.
The host carried a greater threat in the second half. Lambert Nguime Araina was close to scoring a brace but was denied by a last ditch tackle from JS Kabylie defence. The record 14-time Algerian champions maintained their composure and went in-front thanks to an own goal from Coton Sport Centre back Etame Ngombe.
Lambert Gueme Araina began celebrating the equalizer but even after calls to check from the VAR the goal wasn’t awarded. He then set-up Marou Souaibou who wasted a glorious chance from close range.
Despite keen to grab a draw, the Cotonites made several mistake but Narcisse Nlend produced fantastic saves to keep them at bay. The goalkeeper who leaked two bizarre goals on a night they intended to conquer was at his best during the last segment of the game. Any attempt to force a draw was drowned by a confident JS Kabylie.
It is the third successive defeat for Coton Sport against JS Kabylie. They 15-time Elite one champions had lost to the Algerians twice during the group stages.
The contest is far from over with the return slated for next week June 27.