Will Saturday’s cup final be a fitting ending to what has been an amazing fairytale story for amateur side US Quevilly, or will they fall at the final hurdle, just as they did back in 1927 against Marseille.
Before Saturday’s showpiece final let’s have a look at US Quevilly, who they are and what to expect from the third division side.
WHO ARE US QUEVILLY?
Originally founded back in 1905 the current club came into existence in 1979 after the club had suffered through administration. Local resident Robert Beauchamp made the decision to reform the club at the start of 1979 but instead of joining the French league system in the same division that they had dropped out of, they were made to start at the very bottom of the pyramid – the eighth tier of French football.
Twenty years after Beauchamp resurrected the club they finally made it back to the CFA, back to where they belonged. Now in France’s fourth division USQ would start to grow their cup reputation. In 2005 they reached the Last 16 of the Coupe de France, this was only a prelude to the great success they had in 2010.
Under new boss Régis Brouard not only would the amateur side gain promotion to the Championnat National, France’s third division but evoking memories of years gone by USQ would reach the Coupe de France semi-final. In the end they would lose 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain but the name of Quevilly would go down in cup folklore.
The label of “cup specialists” was truly cemented with USQ when players would look to join the amateur side on the off chance of another possible cup run.
Full-back Cédric Vanoukia remarked that new signings like Pierrick Cappelle “have been coming for the last two years to have another cup run. They were like kids; they didn’t realise that there was only a one in a million chance of that happening again.”
Now Quevilly has the chance to go one better and reinforce their place in French football history. Can the small side from Normandy become the first side since World War II to win France’s national cup all the way from the third division.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Quevilly’s journey to the Stade de France started back on the 29th of October. The 5th round of the Coupe de France is a regional round. The game saw USQ travel 40 miles south to Evreux. Quevilly made short work of the Regional side, winning 4-1.
In the 6th round the trip was equally as close with CFA side Pacy-Sur-Eure the opponents as Quevilly ran out 3-1 winners. The path to the 8th round was fairly simple as Regional side RC Clermont were dispatched with ease 5-2.
This brought the first close encounter of the cup run as both Feignies and Quevilly couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes and the game went to penalties. This proved too much for the CFA2 side and without scoring a penalty they fell 3-0 in the shoot-out.
In was penalties again in the last 64 as they went to the wire beating Rennes TA 5-4 in the shoot-out. Now in the last 32 the big teams began to enter the competition. In their first game at home during the run it was up to Joris Colinet to score the only goal of the game just after half-time and send USQ past Ligue 2 side Angers SCO.
The visit of Orléans to the Stade Amable Lozai was a very tight affair, level after 90 minutes it was the home side that would come out on top in Extra-Time. Forwards Pierrick Capelle and Anthony Laup came up with the deciding goals.
When the draw brought out the name of French legends Olympique de Marseille that was meant to be the end of Quevilly’s excellent story. Unfortunately for OM the players hadn’t read the script. Juan Valero opened the scoring for Quevilly after only six minutes and the Stade Michel d’Ornano – new temporary home for USQ – erupted with an explosion of yellow and black.
Loic Remy looked to have spoiled the party, equalising with only five minutes to go. Once again Quevilly would go into extra-time, and once again their fitness proved the extra 10% needed. Johan-Christophe Ayina made it 2-1 after 111 minutes, only for Remy to level within the minute. Penalties looked on the cards until Ayina again found the net. With only seconds remaining Marseille had no response and Quevilly were in the semi-finals. And we all know how that turned out.
Eight games played and 18 goals scored for Quevilly to reach the Coupe de France for the second time in their history. Who would bet against them making it nine wins and lift the Coupe Charles Simon, making football history.
Coach Régis Brouard set his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for the wins against Marseille and Rennes, it would be unlikely if Brouard would deviate away from this system – putting trust in the players that have got him this far.
Between the posts will be Issa Coulibaly, the 28-year old was the goalkeeper as his side won promotion from the CFA last season.
The back four of Frederic Weis, Gregory Beaugrard, Alexander Vardin and Cedric Vanoukia are all products of the lower leagues, none of the four have played higher than the 3rd division but have all looked the part during this cup run. Beaugrard himself twilights as USQ’s U19 coach.
Protecting the back four will be former Caen youngster Matthias Jouan, who has four goals this season in the league. Beside Jouan will be Marseille midfielder and former France captain Alou Diarra’s brother Zanke. The former PSG youngster used to live near the Stade de France and can’t wait to finally stepping inside and gracing the National stadium just as he dreamed.
Playing in the hole will be former Caen midfielder Julien Valero. Performing possibly better than he ever has, the 28-year old has six league goals and will be a threat in-behind the Lyon midfield. On the left will be the talents of Pierrick Capelle, he will be hoping to add to his six league goals this season.
Anthony Laup used all the calmness and experience of his 29-years to steer the winning goal past Benoit Costil in the semi-final. His team will look to him for inspiration on Saturday night.
Finally, upfront and leading the line is 29-year old Joris Colinet. The tall striker scored 25 goals as Quevilly looked to win promotion from the CFA, now in the third division he has continued to find the net. Scoring eight league goals.
The team here at French Football Weekly would like to wish both teams the best of luck. Everyone loves a fairytale though, now all we need now is Quevilly to provide the happy ending.