Coupe de France 32emes : Saturday Part I
The Coupe de France kicks off 2018 in French football at lunchtime on Saturday with two of the smaller teams getting the chance to shine, at home against higher-ranked opposition. AS Fabregues and CO Avallon are both in National 3, the fifth tier of French football, and both seeking to make history for their clubs.
AS Fabregues v Bourg-en-Bresse Peronnas 01
AS Fabregues have the tougher task, as they face Bourg-en-Bresse Peronnas 01 from Ligue 2 – although the visitors sit in 18th place and look very inconsistent. ASF will be brimming with confidence after their victory in the last round against Rodez, top of National, on penalties. This sounds like a chaotic chain of events, midfielder Fanch Weyders saying “we made a good start but conceded a stupid goal in the 8th minute”, before his team held out under pressure, saw the opposing keeper sent off for timewasting with 5 minutes to go, equalised in injury time, and won the penalty shoot-out with a panenka from Jordan Kassa. Weyders is looking forward to the next round, citing the mantra of coach Nicolas Guibal: “respect everyone, fear no-one”.
FBBP might be in slightly sorry shape in the league, but they have cup pedigree that includes a quarter final appearance in 1998, where they lost to OL ‘at home’ at the Stade Gerland, after knocking out Montpellier and Metz in the preceding rounds, and reaching the 8emes in 2003 and 2012. However, they are yet to keep a clean sheet in this competition, where they have faced sides from the sixth and seventh tier, and they have the worst defence in Ligue 2 with 41 goals conceded (even Tours on five points have shipped fewer). If ASF goalkeeper Yassine Meslouhi can put in the same kind of performance he did against Rodez, and the Occitane attack can put some pressure on Bourg’s deeply shaky defence, there is a decent chance that Fabregues can go through if they keep their focus.
« Respecter tout le monde, ne craindre personne »
CO Avallon v FC Chambly
Newly promoted to the National 3 this season, CO Avallon have settled well at their new level, which brings a much-needed financial injection; as does the cup run, which is also helping to attract new supporters and interest in the club. They will be hosting the match at one of the annexes of the stade de l’Abbé-Deschamps in nearby Auxerre, putting on buses for their supporters as they reach this point for the first time ever.
To get here, COA have so far only beaten one higher-ranked team – fourth-tier Jura Sud, whom they beat 3-1 in the sixth round. After a goaltastic couple of early rounds, they have more recently laboured a little against two sixth-tier teams, needing penalties to beat Hauts Lyonnais, and extra time to see off Cluses Scionzier 1-0.
They will be hosting FC Chambly, of National 1, who despite not pulling up any trees in the league have previous in the Coupe de France, and not just in the distant past. After reaching this stage in both 2011/12 and 2013/14, they will be seeking to continue a run of two consecutive appearances in the 16emes – two years ago losing 2-0 to Lyon, and last year putting in a huge performance to come from 3-0 down against Monaco, forcing extra time, before finally succumbing 5-4. With that kind of experience on show, the higher-placed team looks likely to prevail.