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Thursday, September 28, 2023

CAFCL Preview: Coton Sport (CMR) vs. Al-Hilal Omdurman (SDN)

Coton Sport of Cameroon will look to get their CAF Champions League campaign back on track in Group B on Friday but have another difficult matchup at home in Garoua against an Al-Hilal Omdurman side led by African coaching legend Florent Ibengé. Les Cotonniers were defeated in their opening Group B match, also at home, by current group leaders Mamelodi Sundowns and it will not get any easier for the Cameroonian champions. Hilal have an excellent opportunity to further boost their hopes of a top-2 finish in the group after defeating Egyptian club Al Ahly last weekend.

A poor start doomed Coton Sport’s chances against Sundowns with defensive mistakes that are punished at this level. Coach Gabriel Haman stated his squad worked on their issues from the opening match and will be better prepared for what appears to be their best opportunity to earn a win in a group where they are major underdogs. With two of their three home fixtures completed after Friday it is crucial to produce a victory if they have any hope of boosting their distant odds of challenging for qualification to the competition quarterfinals.

If Les Cotonniers want to find success it will need to start with their young defense that struggled in the opener. Chad national team goalkeeper Gadin Allambatnan as well as right back and captain Hassana Mamoudou were the oldest members of the defensive unit against Sundowns and are each only 23-years-old. Deep lying central midfielder Djawal Kaïba showed some of his skill with a through pass for Coton Sport’s only goal against Sundowns but needs to impose himself in his defensive duties as well. Patient Wassou scored the goal and showed promise on the wing but the striker issue up top continues to be a problem since Souaibou Marou’s departure to Orlando Pirates.

Al-Hilal played excellently against Al Ahly and a dominant defense was largely responsible. Morale is high in the camp of the Crescent and a victory on Friday would put the Sudanese champions into excellent position to live up to the expectations set out by coach Ibengé. The Congolese tactician boldly indicated his team wants to reach the quarterfinals from a group that features the top-2 clubs in African football based on form during the 2022-23 season and this Hilal team looks very capable.

Senegal’s 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) defensive organizer, Ousmane Diouf, continues his rapid adjustment since joining Hilal. The €168,000 signing from Teungueth FC will anchor a defensive line that features attacking skill at both fullback positions with Ghanaian Imoro Ibrahim on the left and former Smouha player Athir El Tahir on the right. David Abagna is another signing from the CHAN tournament after his performances for Ghana and appears set for another start with Sudan national team player Walieldin Khidir also a consistent performer. Makadi Lilepo scored an excellent free kick goal to defeat Ahly and will be joined by Mohamed Abdelrahman in the forward line who continues his rise towards the top of the Sudan national team scoring chart.

More information on the teams is in the links below.