Coupe de France 16emes : Canet-Roussillon FC v SM Caen
Caen were one of the party-poopers of the last round as they knocked out sixth-tier SC Hazebrouck 2-0 with goals from Ronny Rodelin and Yoël Armougom, the 19-year-old scoring his debut goal just two minutes after coming on as substitute. With heavily-rumoured interest in Lorient’s Abdul Majeed Waris coming to nothing, Caen still bottom of the scoring charts in Ligue 1 (now 14 from 22 games), and own-goal doing better for them than anyone other than Rodelin and Ivan Santini, Patrice Garande’s best throw of the dice might be to give the reservist and a couple of other youngsters a shot, as nothing else seems to be working.
This time they will be travelling to fifth tier Canet-Roussillon, who beat sixth-tier SN Imphy Decize more comfortably 3-0 with goals from Mathieu Barbier, Bastien Posteraro and Pierre Mahieu. They have already seen off one big(ish) gun, beating Ligue 2’s AC Ajaccio 2-0 in the last round before Christmas, with a penalty from Toufik Ouadoudi following a confusing situation where nobody seems quite sure if Barbier or Mahieu opened the scoring, the club’s Facebook page reporting « y a un dilemme entre Pierre et Mathieu lol, ils savent pas qui a marqué ».
This is the furthest Canet RFC have ever got in this competition – the small coastal town of Canet-en-Roussillon, near Perpgnan, is decked with yellow and blue balloons and they have their own hashtag #ensembleecrivonslhistoire (let’s write history together) as they prepare for this next challenge. Striker Damien Buxeda is taking a bullish approach, telling Stadito « Certes, tout le monde aurait aimé une plus grosse écurie, mais je pense que face à Caen, il y a un coup à jouer » (“Sure, everyone would have liked a bigger team, but I think that against Caen, there is a chance”) but the man has a point, referencing Bordeaux’s loss to Granville. If they can maintain solidarity, combativity, and stop Caen keeping possession, he says, « on est dangereux ».
Third in their group in National 3 – but notably only behind two pro reserve teams, Toulouse and Nimes, with a game in hand, and ahead of Montpellier B – they have managed to keep their league heads on while dealing with the magic of the Coupe de France, most recently beating Narbonne 4-0 away, with goals from Pascal Vie, Barbier, Buxeda and another penalty from Ouadoudi.
With a promising attack – also featuring their own « petit prince » Yacine Belhadj in midfield, and topping the Occitanie group with 22 scored in 13 games – and their opponents not so much, if they can keep their defence together they could cause Garande’s men some problems. A four-division gap is probably too much to be overcome, but Canet RFC are brimming with confidence and should make this a difficult afternoon for the visitors. As Belhadj says “we have our milestones, our supporters, but most of all, nothing to lose”.