The head coach of Cotonsport of Garoua Gabriel Haman says the club has a lot of soul searching to compete with the big guns on the continent while highlighting some of the areas that differentiate them from the rest.
The Cameroon champions are struggling to assert their domestic strength in the CAF Champions League this season as they return for the first time in six years.
Haman’s charges have been bundled out of the competition after suffering losses in their opening four games going into Day five at home to Al Ahly SC.
The trainer is thinking beyond the Al Ahly fixture. He believes it’s time to retrospect and adjust on the aspects that make the others different.
“I believe we are not at the same level. We may have had seasons in which we emerge as the better in some clashes with some African clubs but it’s not the same level. We have a lot to learn.
“We have to look out for what we lack. What others have that we don’t. We need to try to organize as the dominant teams. When you look keenly, it’s almost the same salary, nearly the same environment. It’s on us to learn the lessons.
“The biggest lesson from this competition this season is the Champions League is way above the Confederation Cup,” coach Haman said during the pre-match conference on Thursday.
Coton, 17-time champions of Cameroon reached the semi-final of the secondary competition during the 2020/21 season but like in 2017 they have struggled in the primary competition.
Haman believes the continuous exodus of the best from the rest of the players of the club hasn’t helped matters.
“A majority of players are discovering the competition with the exception of Kamilou Daouda and a few others. When a club is always rebuilding every year like in our case, we have to hope but be satisfied with the quality of play and not just results.”
“We are not disappointed with their performance. It’s true the results are not very good but being a work in progress it is also good to be regular in competitions like this so the players can learn.”
As part of efforts to improve the players zeal ahead of the game against Al Ahly SC, Cotonsport’s management has promised increments in the earnings of the players should they record a win at home.
Some sections of the stakeholders think they added incentive could rather work against the players but coach Haman agrees.
“It’s my opinion too. Young players need a certain level of experience to be able to manage stress. The first time I was here I spoke about the effects. This motivation could sometimes work against the players if the pressure is too much. I have told the players to go and give their all without fear.
“We have also observed that we need to work on the intrinsic motivation of our players because not only external variables motivate players.
Coton will play their last home game of the competition this season with the knowledge that they need to end a nine-games winless run against the Red Devils but Haman believes fans must differentiate between the different competitions.
“There are two competitions. In the Champions League, we have to be honest to say we are in a complicated group of previous winners with the exception of Al Hilal SC. The objective in the competition was to get to the group stage and go as far as possible. But in the domestic championship we are not doing badly. We have two games in hand which if we win we will be at the top of our group.”
Cotonsport host the Egyptian giants at 1600 GMT, at the Roumde Adjia stadium in a repeat of the 2008 CAF Champions League final. It provides room for desperate search of a win for the hosts’ honor while the visitors could face a rare group stage exit in seven years if they suffer a defeat.
Mamelodi Sundowns currently lead Group B with ten points, a point better than second-seeded Al Hilal ahead of a meeting of both sides this weekend.
Al Ahly counts four points after four games, but a win against Coton and a defeat to Al Hilal blows the second place in the group wide open going into match day six.
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