Coupe De France 8emes – Tuesday – CA Bastia v Angers, Frejus v Auxerre, Bordeaux v Lorient
The round of sixteen crashes into view with some interesting fixtures but also not the draw we might have hoped for, as the minnows are all at home against higher opposition. However, with several of the higher-ups in a slightly awkward situation league-wise, there could still be some upsets in store.
Today there are three fixtures, including a couple of minnows facing opposition two levels higher, before an all Ligue-1 clash in Bordeaux v Lorient (insert joke here – Ed.).
CA Bastia (National) v Angers (Ligue 1) – 18:00 CET
Hello and welcome to the fixture that a few weeks back was looking spicy (#CABASCO) but now Angers have pulled themselves together a bit so may be less exciting.
ASCO beat CFA’s Granville 3-1 and then Caen 2-1 in the last two rounds; CAB needed penalties to knock out DH side Hauts Lyonnais before pulling off a major coup with their 2-0 win over Nancy in the last round, scoring at both ends of the match through Oumar Camara (11 minutes) and Dominique Pandor (89).
CAB actually started back in the fifth round, playing four DH/PH teams early on – and needing penalties to defeat Galllia Lucciana in the sixth round. They are tenth in National and facing Lyon Duchere (7th) in their next league game.
Stephane Moulin has made three changes from the team that did for Bastia 3-0 at the weekend, giving Issa Cissokho a rest but welcoming Famara Diedhiou and Mateo Pavlovic back into the fold. Diedhiou looked promising on his acquisition from Clermont in the summer but has been absent through AFCON and unspecified knack for much of 2017; Karl Toko Ekambi ditto for AFCON (although he did win it) but making an impressive re-entry with a double against SCB and says he is «en mode commando» after Cameroon’s victory in Gabon. So – be afraid, CAB, be very afraid.
Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël (CFA) v Auxerre (Ligue 2) – 18:00 CET
Fourth-tier meets second in this tie as two teams languishing outside Ligue 1 but with very different histories fight for a place in the quarter-finals.
Fréjus reached this stage with a 91st minute winner from Sackre Gbohou to see off CFA rivals Prix-lès-Mézières, to ensure that they continue their twin targets of Cup progress and league promotion: they currently sit in third place in their CFA group, although they have slipped somewhat as they have progressed in the knock-out tournament, with only one league win in 2017.
While Fréjus’ cup form seems to have adversely affected their league form, the opposite appears true of Auxerre in recent weeks. The fallen giants, four-time winners and runners-up only two years ago, are currently third from bottom of Ligue 2 – but this marks a slight upturn after dropping to the foot of the table last month. Although they lost their last match 1-0 at Le Havre, they had previously won their last three straight – and four of their last five – to now give themselves a real fighting chance of avoiding relegation. And their promising recent form more or less coincided with their impressive win in the last round, outlasting Ligue 1 Saint-Etienne 3-0 after extra time, former Lyon striker Mohamed Yattara setting AJA on their way.
Auxerre now find themselves as the marked men here, but their experience and recent good form should tell. However, Fréjus, whose most famous resident is rumoured to be Belinda Carlisle, may yet spring another surprise, giving themselves a chance of a big-money glamour quarter final tie. Ooh baby, do you know what that’s worth?!
Bordeaux (Ligue 1) v Lorient (Ligue 1) – 21:00 CET
It’s an all Ligue-1 clash, but you do wonder if this one shouldn’t have been inversé as Bordeaux in fifth host Lorient in dead-last-and-looking-doomed with 20 points separating the teams. Bordeaux are looking sprightly in 2017 with their only losses at the hands (or feet) of PSG, although it did take a 92nd-minute winner from top-scorer Gaetan Laborde to beat Dijon in the last round, after a nearly-as-late strike from Malcom to see off Ligue 2’s Clermont before that.
Lorient, meanwhile, looked as skittery as ever needing extra time to beat National side Chateauroux 3-2 in the last round, after one of their sporadically startling results beating Nice in the first game back after the winter break. Their scorers so far are a litany of ‘oh, that’s where he is now’ : Jimmy Cabot, Cafu, Walid Mesloub, and Jeremie Aliadiere… Benjamin Moukandjo is now back after AFCON duty for Cameroon, although that hasn’t yet helped in the league.
You do wonder what it’s like to go from being captain and man of the match in the final that your country win to become champions of Africa for the fifth time to this shower but there you go. Moukandjo and Abdul Majeed Waris are joint top-scorers for Lorient with 7 each in the league (Waris got another in the league cup), and FCL desperately need one of them – preferably both – to start hitting the back of the net on a more regular basis.
This therefore matches up a team wanting to confirm a European place but who host Lyon at the weekend, with a team who could genuinely struggle to make 30 points this season who ditto Marseille and PSG in the next two games so might well think sod this for a game of soldiers and try to give the fans something to sing about. After all – where there’s life there’s hope…