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Coaching changes that reshaped clubs season in Elite One

by Lesley Ngwa
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Some coaching changes are largely the reason some clubs have had a better season so far in the MTN Elite One championship.

Changing the head coach of a team in the course of a season is always a risky gamble with huge uncertainty around the move.

However, during this 2022/23 campaign in the MTN Elite One championship turned out to be the catalyst for attainment of a satisfactory season.

The decision to replace Alain Nseme with Roger Constantine Bep in the PWD dugout, the move to take out Jean Baptiste Bisseck at Canon Yaounde and replace him with Souleymanou Aboubakar, replacement of Ina Ngassa and with Clement Arroga are some of the noticeable moves the yielded a positive feedback.

Breakdown of the changes and what it brought

Souleymanou in place of Bisseck at Canon 

On evidence of how long it took, the decision to replace Jean Baptiste Bisseck at the helm of Canon Yaounde wasn’t an easy one. The management of Canon took a bold decision in January this year.

Before the ex-Eding and Akonangi coach left, Canon had just 14 points from ten games and were experiencing their worst start to the Elite One championship in five years.

It took close to a month before Canon management announced Aboubakar as his replacement. The experienced trainer who has had successful stops at Stade Renard where he won the cup of Cameroon and back-to-back Elite One triumph with Cotonsport didn’t change much. Amongst the few big decisions, he made Jourdain Mbainayssem his permanent first choice keeper and brought in Hugo Biloa as goalkeeper coach. He made Ngong Neville a regular instead of the peripheral figure he had been. These adjustments plus getting more from Emmanuel Mahop made Canon a different proposition.

Canon starting XI against Stade Renard

Aboubakar masterminded seven wins and three draws in ten games to help Canon win Pool A with 38 points. The side accumulated 24 points from the same number of games his predecessor made 14 points and were unbeaten during that run.


The Kpakum chasing a first domestic title since 2002 will be the side to beat in the title playoff which starts in a fortnight in Douala. Stopping their lead striker and lead scorer with 13 goals in this season’s championship should be every opponents’ headache.

Bisseck in place of Haman at Cotonsport

Cotonsport started the season as defending champions of the Elite One championship. Unfortunately, a tough Group Stage run in the CAF Champions League coupled with depleted their players confidence after they lost all six group games in a group of death that had eventual semi-finalist Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly SC.

When they returned to the domestic scene, management couldn’t keep up with some of the poor performances.

Under Haman, they have only managed six wins, five draws and suffered four defeats in 15 league games, and sat third on the classification table in Group A, with 23 points.

Cotonsport has only won one of his last nine games in all competitions, just two wins in 2023. Haman and his staff were given a three match ultimatum, but since they only won one (1-0 against Djiko FC) and suffered two defeats to Al Ahly and Canon of Yaounde.

The 0-1 defeat to Canon at the Ngoa Ekelle Stadium, was the final blow for Gabriel Haman, who was replaced by former Canon manager, Bissek Jean Baptiste. Coach Haman, winner of the 2022 coach of the year was made director of the club’s youth team.

Bisseck arrived with his trusted 4-3-3 formation made a few changes in some areas of the team and it worked for him.

‘Frozen’ midfielder Ako Harry became a regular and very impactful while Che Malone was made captain more often than not as Kamilou Daouda and Hassana Mamoudou were not starters. Che played a telling role while the forwards Wassou Goue, Arthur Bennen, Bazzani Aziz and co shared the goals.

Cotonsport starting XI against Aigle Royal

These few changes made a huge impact in the ranks of the holders as they became very difficult to beat and eventually charged towards the top half of the table. Coton finished the first part of the season on second spot in Pool A. Their 34 points from 20 games earned the record champions the right to battle for their 18th title.

Arroga in place of Ngassa at Bamboutos FC

Bamboutos FC of Mbouda made one of the biggest decisions of the Elite One championship season by replacing Ina Ngassa and his coaching crew weeks before the end of the championship. Though was going well for for the Mangwa Boys on the pitch. Events off it were accused by many as the reason Ina was made Sporting Director and former Intermediate Lions coach Clement Arroga made head coach.

Arroga took over in the month of March when Bamboutos FC was leading Pool B. Though they eventually finished second to a very consistent Gazelle FA, the team became more consistent than they were before his arrival.

The side only suffered two defeats in his tenure and both were after they had qualified for the playoffs.

Bamboutos FC finished the Group phase of the season with 34 points and the best defence which conceded 11 goals in 20 games largely thanks to the brilliance of the pairing of Frank Atsama and Tchami Donatien.

Bamboutos FC pre-match photo
Photo Credit: Un Bami Qui Tweet

They have reached the playoffs and are expected to make the last push to give themselves a chance of winning the first ever domestic title after over 70 years of existence.

Bep in place of Nseme at PWD

The former Lion Blesse trainer replaced Alain Nseme in March this year with seven games left and PWD stirring relegation.

The astute trainer worked on a number of aspects including restoring legendary captain Berinyuy Derick back in as a starter alongside Nyaba Brian in the center of the defence. His input made the Abakwa Boys more resolute and in the end.

PWD starting XI against Cotonsport

In seven games at the helm of the 2020 champions, coach Bep only suffered defeats to holders Cotonsport of Garoua. He succeeded in registering three wins, three draws and finished the season with an additional 12 points. PWD finished on the fourth spot in Pool A.

There are other changes that made an impact but these four changes stand out as it helped the clubs achieve their objective set when the managers walked through the doors of the club.

Yves Clement Arroga, Souleymanou Aboubakar and Jean Baptiste Bisseck will meet at the title playoff just like Mauril Njoya and Franklin Anumewa who were mid season replacements for Djiko FC and YOSA respectively will rather meet in the relegation playoff game in a fortnight in Douala.

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