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CAFCL Preview: Coton Sport (CMR) vs. Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)

Cameroonian champions Coton Sport get their 2022-23 CAF Champions League group stage campaign underway on Friday when the Garoua-based club hosts South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua. Les Cotonniers have had over a week to prepare for the match but will need to earn a result at home against Sundowns who are favored to advance out of Group B along with Egyptian power club Al Ahly.

Les Cotonniers experienced mixed fortunes in their opening three matches of 2023 in Cameroon’s Elite One with a draw, a victory and most recently a 1-0 defeat at Eding Sport. Gabriel Haman has a massive challenge ahead of him to get his side to be competitive in the CAFCL after losing key forward Souaibou Marou, who completed a transfer to Sundowns’ DStv Premiership rivals Orlando Pirates. This will be the first group stage campaign in the CAFCL for Cameroon’s dominant club since the 2016-17 season when they lost all six of their matches in a group that included Al Ahly, Morocco’s Wydad AC and Zanaco of Zambia.

There are several young and talented players Haman has to call upon including several members of Cameroon’s squad at the recently completed 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN). Defender Che Malone, midfielder Djawal Kaïba and forward Ramses Donfack all featured for the Intermediate Lions and should play a role on Friday. 35-year-old former Niger national team forward Kamilou Daouda is a veteran presence up top and Chad national team goalkeeper Gabin Allambatnan is a young goalkeeper who continues to show signs of progress.

Mamelodi Sundowns continue to march along on their path to what looks like yet another title in South Africa’s DStv Premiership, currently holding a massive 23-point lead ahead of nearest competitors SuperSport United. Young star Cassius Mailula scored the only goal in their 1-0 home victory over Sudan’s Al-Hilal to kick off their Group B campaign, a match Sundowns could have won by a more comfortable margin but the result pleased head coach Rulani Mokwena in the end. Mokwena praised the club’s preparations for their upcoming CAFCL matches and stated they expect a challenge from Coton Sport in Cameroon.

Attackers Mailula and Peter Shalulile are in good form but credit must be given to attacking midfielder Neo Maema who is showing an eye for goal this season, setting up Mailula’s winner against Al-Hilal with a hard shot from distance that rebounded to the young forward. Maema and high priced Chilean playmaker Marcelo Allende along with deeper lying midfielder Teboho Mokoena help Sundowns enjoy dominance in possession while quick fullbacks Khuliso Mudau and Aubrey Modiba give Sundowns a more direct alternative with their flying runs down the wings. For the road match in Cameroon, Mokwena may go with three central defenders and play Mudau (or Thapelo Morena) and Modiba as wingbacks.

More on both teams is in the links below.


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