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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Cotonsport utilize away goal to advance past Jaraaf by the slimmest of margins

Cameroon’s Cotonsport clinched advancement to the semi-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup by the skin of their teeth on Sunday, finding an away goal and then doing just enough to hold off a resurgent ASC Jaraaf side in Senegal to advance via away goals. Eight years since making it to the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League, the Cameroonian titans return to the late stages of continental competition and will face Algerian side JS Kabylie for a spot in the final.

The Senegalese hosts got right to work on overcoming the 1-0 first leg defeat in Cameroon. In the 4th minute a looping cross and unconvincing clearance from Cotonsport keeper Narcisse Nlend provided an open shooting opportunity for Ousmane Mbengue, but the midfielder put his low shot just wide. The sloppy start for the visitors continued with a giveaway in the Cotonsport defensive zone, but Albert Diene wasted the chance by putting a shot high and wide.

After the 15 minute mark Cotonsport had a spell of inspired play that eventually gave them a precious away goal. After forcing Jaraaf keeper Pape Seydou Ndiaye into a save from a header just after 15 minutes, another header from a corner kick soon after was hacked off the Jaraaf line by a defender just in time. The goal for Cotonsport came in the 21st minute when a group of attackers stormed into the Jaraaf box before star Lambert Araina set up Sibiri Sanou, the Burkinabé player putting his effort just inside the post for the opener.

Jaraaf then proceeded to dominate the match in search of goals. In the 34th minute the ball fell kindly for Diene off a deflection and the forward smashed his unstoppable finish into the roof of the net. The second came soon after halftime in the 55th minute when a long ball was poorly dealt with by Cotonsport defender Solomon Banga to allow Pape N’Diaye to sneak in, collect the ball and turn to finish low past the advancing Nlend.

From then on Cotonsport held on for dear life. Nlend parried a header from a free kick right into mix of defenders and attackers, resulting in a follow up that clipped the post before going wide. In the 68th minute Diene did excellently to take down an aerial ball and finish past Nlend, but as he ran off to celebrate his joy turned to anger upon seeing the linesman flagging him for offside.

Jaraaf had a couple of heading opportunities in the final ten minutes but Cotonsport locked down and did well to hold off a home side that was desperate for the winning goal. The referee blew the full time whistle after three minutes of stoppage time and the players from the Cameroonian team celebrated their accomplishment with joy. Highlights of the game are below.