Cotonsport FC of Garoua will host South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns in a Group B game at the Roumde Adjia stadium on Friday February 17.
Cotonsport’s first group game against Al Ahly of Egypt, was pushed forward to early March, due to the involvement of the Egyptian side in the 2023 FIFA club world cup. Sundowns on their part edged Sudan’s Al-Hilal Club 1-0, thanks to a goal from Mailula Cassius.
Friday’s game will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs. As a matter of fact, it will be the first time cotonsport will be facing a South Opponent at the CAF interclub competition. The cotonites have played games on South African soil this season, but it was Royal Leopards FC of Eswatini, who hosted in neighboring South Africa.
Mamelodi Sundowns on their part, has never also played against a Cameroonian club in this competition.
How they got here
Cotonsport defeated Matlama FC 4-0 on aggregate, to go pass the first preliminary round in September. The 17-time Cameroon league winners won 3-0 away in Lesotho, thanks to goals from Brandon Eno, Marou Souaibou and Triomphe Kokolo.
Gabriel Haman’s side won 1-0 in Garoua on September 18, 2022, with Brandon Eno scoring the lone goal.
Next up for Cotonsport was Royal Leopards FC of Eswatini in the second preliminary round. In the first leg played in South Africa, Marou Souaibou scored the lone goal as both sides separated 1-1.
First half goals from Marou Souaibou and Patient Wassou, secured a 2-1 win for Cotonsport in the return game in Garoua on October 16, 2022.
Matlama 0-3 Cotonsport
Cotonsport 1-0 Matlama
Royal Leopards 1-1 cotonsport
Cotonsport 2-1 Royal Leopards (16 October)
For Sundowns, they were exempted from the first preliminary round, and only came in the second round against Seychelles’ La Passe FC.
The “Bafana ba Style” crushes La Passe 15-1 on aggregate. After recording a 7-0 win in the away game, Sundowns won 8-1 in the return game at the Loftus Versfeld stadium on October 14. Midfielder Mailula Cassius scored a hat trick, Motupa Gift recorded a brace, while Domingo Haashim, Maema Neo and Moreno Thapelo were also on target.
Cotonsport has won just five of their last 12 games in the Cameroon Elite one championship, recording five draws and two defeats.
The cotonites are going into Friday’s game after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Eding Sport on February 08, in an advanced day 13 game.
For Sundowns, it has been a scintillating last four months for the club. They’re on a 14 games winning run. Friday will make it exactly 118 days since Sundowns last suffered a defeat or dropped a point in all competitions.
Their last defeat dates back to October 22, 2022, when they were beaten 3-0 by Orlando Pirates.
Cotonsport’s Gabriel Haman, will be in his first Group Stage of the CAF Champions League, but not his first at the level of the CAF interclub competition.
The tactician led the cotonites to the Group Stage of the CAF Confederation cup last season when he took full command of the team. In just over a year as coach of Cotonsport, Haman has won the Elite one championship, the Cameroon cup, and leading them to this stage of the CAF Champions League, is another milestone for the tactician.
Rhulani Mokwena is the man leading Sundowns in their quest for a second CAF Champions League trophy. He is the son of former Orlando Pirates player Julias Sono, and nephew to Jomo Sono, Mokwena hails from a footballing family and started his professional coaching career in the youth systems at Silver Stars, before serving as an assistant manager at Mamelodi Sundowns and Pirates.
Mokwena has served as interim coach of Orlando Pirates, and Chippa United. He previously was co-coach of Mamelodi Sundowns alongside Manqoba Mngqithi, until October 2022, when he was given full command of the team.
Players to Watch
Cotonsport’s top scorer in the preliminary rounds Marou Souaibou, left the club for Mamelodi Sundowns rival Orlando Pirates. The cotonites will now have to count on their CHAN contingent Che Malone Fondoh, Kaiba Djawal, and Ramses Donfack.
Cotonsport will also count on their new signings like Nigerian forward Emmanuel Igboeri Ebubechoukwu.
For Mamelodi Sundowns, 21-year-old midfielder Mailula Cassius scored their lone goal against Al-Hilal the last time out, and can be decisive when at his best. He has four goals in the CAF Champions League for Sundowns this season. His tally in all competitions this season counts 12 goals and three assists.
History in the competition
Cotonsport’s biggest success in the CAF Champions League, was reaching the finals of the 2008 edition. Cotonsport had finished top of a group B that had the likes of Al-Hilal, TP Mazembe and Enyimba, to set a final against group A leaders, Al Ahly of Egypt. Al Ahly won the final 4-2 on aggregate.
Sundowns on their part, won the CAF Champions League in 2016, when they defeated Egyptian side Zamalek in the final.
The South Africans had won 3-0 in the away game, but suffered a 1-0 defeat in the return game, good enough to secure them their first ever title.
Coach Gabriel Haman and his team have intensify training in Garoua, as they get set to welcome Sundowns.
For Sundowns, they had a training session on Wednesday morning, before leaving South Africa for Garoua, a distance of about 5356,7KM.
Prior to leaving South Africa, Sundowns had bolstered their technical team and football-department with the appointment of Michael Loftman as Set Play Coach.
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