Forward Moussa Liman climbed off the bench to score the lone goal as holders, Cotonsport of Garoua edged their city rival Gazelle FA 1-0 in the opening game of the 2022/23 MTN Elite One title play-offs this Sunday at the Reunification stadium in Douala.
The striker who replaced Wassou Goue with 20 minutes from time scored late to give the defending champions all three points in the game that was played at pedestrian pace in the presence of thousands of fans.
17-time champions Coton looked unconvinced all afternoon, but somehow coach Jean Baptiste Bisseck’s team broke the deadlock in the 81st minute after Moussa received the ball on the shoulder of the last defender and whipped it past Marcelin Mbahbi on goal for Gazelle FA.
Patient Wassou had a chance at 34’ to put the holders ahead when he had an empty goal before him after managing to beat Mbahbi but then a timely save from Il-Telli Pade Tchoanfine prevented the Cameroon international from scoring.
The game became even more intense at this point. Gazelle mounted pressure on the defence line led by Che Malone, threatening to find the back of the net on three occasions, unfortunately the captain stop the opponent attackers on two occasion and the other into the waiting hands of Gabin Allambatnan on goal for Cotonsport.
Gazelle had a possible penalty call overlooked by referee Alioum Sidi, who ordered play to continue after what appeared to be a debatable action in the box.
The first segment of the game ended in a barren all tie shortly after the resumption, Jean Paul Atangana Kono missed a fine chance of giving Coton the lead from inside the box, following a cross from Jean Eric Moursou but the header from the former went over the bar.
Barely two minutes into the second half, Mbahbi made an excellent save after a well-worked Coton corner.
Coach Jean Baptiste Bisseck reinforced 13 minutes into the last crucial half by bringing in Philippe Arthur Banen and Macgregor Veraloh in place of Moursou and Atangana.
Not up to 15 minutes after his entry, Coton’s third substitution in this encounter, Limane Moussa breaked the deadlock with an 81th minute goal.
Six minutes of added time were insufficient for the newcomers to equalize as the defending champions held on to get all three points.
The late winner means Cotonsport have enhanced their chance to retain the title after the game skipper Malone Che earned the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
Cotonsport face Bamboutos FC of Mbouda next while Gazelle FA confronts Canon. Coton their playoffs against Canon Yaounde next Sunday while Gazelle face Bamboutos FC.
The club with the highest number of points from the three games in the four-clubs tournament will be crowned 2023; champions of Cameroon.
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