BY Afeseh Apong
Astres of Douala is set to face cotonsport of Garoua in blockbuster playoff game in Garoua later this month.
The Brazilians of Bepanda (Astres), who had already secured their place as pool A leaders, recently smacked city rivals Union Sportive of Douala 3#1 as they keep their morals high ahead of the title deciding playoffs.
Cotonsport who finished second in pool B, five points behind Eding Sport, returned to Garoua after setting the bar high with a nine_one bashing of OFTA of Kribi in the last round of games in pool B, will be banging on home advantage as they chase their 17th league title.
Astres of Douala has been in scintillating form since after their defeat to PWD of Bamenda in the Cameroon cup final on March 13, 2022.
In 22 league games played, the Brazilians of Bepanda have summed up 50 points (the highest by any team in the league), synonymous to 15 wins, five draws and just two defeats (against YOSA and Fortuna). Anicet Mbarga Foe’s side has found the back of the net 33 times, and have conceded just 13 times. With two more rounds of games in pool A, Astres stands a chance of being the only team to go above the 50 points mark this season.
For cotonsport, they have had a topsy-turvy campaign. From a shambolic start to the season which eventually led to the dismissal of Aboubakar Souleymanou as head coach, the Cotonites quickly turned things around and became a dominant force under Gabriel Haman.
In total, Cotonsport won 12 of their 22 games, six draws and four defeats. Their nine_one bashing of OFTA of Kribi, was the highest scoreline recorded in the league this season, and took their goal tally to 37, the highest number of goals scored by any team this far (AS Fortuna has also scored 37 goals).
Head to Head Record
In total, Astres and Cotonsport have faced each other 26 times in all competitions. The coton weavers have reigned supreme, winning 15, five draws and just six times Astres has succeeded to outsmart cotonsport.
Astres last win against cotonsport in the league dates back to 19 August 2021, and it’s 10 months since both teams last met in a league game.
Players to Watch
Both sides have in their ranks individual players who can easily make the difference at any point in time. Starting from the goalkeeping compartment, Anye Derrick Fru has enjoyed a stellar season under Gabriel Haman. His saves and clean sheets have been instrumental in Cotonsport’s resurgence, and he will be looking to clinch his second league title with the Cotonites.
Mbaynaissem Jordan has been the main man between the sticks for the Brazilians of Bepanda, and will be vying for his first major silverware, after recently bowing out at the Cameroon cup final to PWD.
Defenders will definitely have their say in this fixture. Che Malone of Cotonsport and Axel Ndzana of Astres, last year were teammates at Union of Douala, but will now become opponents when their sides meet in the playoffs. Che has contributed immensely in Cotonsport’s solidity at the back, while Ndzana has proven to be just more than a defender. Apart from his nonsense defending, he has also bagged eight goals this season, becoming the highest scoring defender in the Cameroon.
Up front, lots of exciting talents will be on display. The Youthful but deadly Cotonsport’s attacking machinery, with the likes of Patient Wassou and Marou Souaibou, will face direct opposition from Beo Bato and co.
Matches between cotonsport and Astres, have always produced many goals, and a similar scenario should be expected this time around.
Cotonsport’s home advantage
The Cotonites were given a heroic welcome back to Garoua, following a three months stay out of the North Regional capital. The last time cotonsport suffered a defeat in a league game, dates back to March 05, 2020, a 1#2 defeat to Fovu of Baham. With the Graoua population haven missed much of the game this season, they will certainly turn out as the number 12 man, to push the coton weavers to victory on home soil.
The Astres versus cotonsport game could have easily been picked as the league’s finale, but it is now clear that one of the two teams will not win the league this season.
Canon of Yaoundé is in pool position to face Eding Sport of the Lekie in the other playoff game, should the KpaKum maintain the three points gap that currently separates them from the chasing bloc made up of Union Sportive of Douala and APEJES of mfou.
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