Football: Airtel Cup-St Michel and Côte d’Or reach final


While St Michel played one of their worst games but still managed to overcome Anse Reunion 2-0, Côte d’Or made it to their first ever final with an entertaining performance in a 2-1 win against La Passe in a packed Amitié stadium where there was a carnival atmosphere.

Côte d’Or gun down La Passe
Côte d’Or had earned the right to play at home as they had topped pool B and they hosted last year’s Airtel Cup finalists and league leaders La Passe.

La Passe were the much better side in the early exchanges and had numerous occasions to open the score such as in the 10th minute when Malagasy Fagnorena headed wide Garry Radegonde’s superb cross.

In the 15th minute Radegonde, who had a good game on Saturday, went even closer as he latched onto Achille Henriette’s through ball but in a one-on-one situation with Côte d’Or’s goalkeeper Kitson Cécile, his shot hit the post.

Fagnorena also missed another sitter a minute later as he failed to beat goalkeeper Cécile when he was in the clear.

La Passe were made to pay in the 18th minute as Côte d’Or’s influential midfielder, Malagasy Jean Tigana, floated a free-kick to Francis Louis who made no mistake and headed past goalkeeper Vincent Euphrasie to make it 1-0 and send the Praslin supporters into wild celebration.

The goal swayed the momentum into Côte d’Or’s favour after being under pressure in the opening minutes and on the stroke of half-time, Dine Suzette should have made it 2-0 from another of Tigana’s instinctive cross but he missed a gaping goal.

In the second half, Marlon Sophola missed a clear chance to increase Côte d’Or’s lead after a neat one-two with Tigana in the opening minutes.

Tigana though made it 2-0 minutes later as he fired past a hapless goalkeeper Euphrasie after some neat build-up play by Côte d’Or.

La Passe scored a consolation goal late through Renick Esther to make it 2-1 but Côte d’Or held on for a famous victory which delighted coach Ahmed Abdou, a former La Passe player and coach.

“I am very happy we managed to beat La Passe to make it to the final. We were under pressure at the start of the match as La Passe tried to score early, but we scored and it changed the match.

I would also like to thank all our supporters who helped us achieve this victory and the players who were keen to reach their first final,” coach Abdou told Sports Nation.

As for La Passe’s coach Bruno Saindini, he was disappointed with the loss as he felt his team created enough opportunities to win this match, especially in the opening minutes where they wasted many clear chances. He also wished Côte d’Or well for the final.

St Michel edge past Anse Reunion

Anse Reunion were the better side although St Michel stuttered to the final with a far-from-convincing 2-0 win at Stad Linite on Saturday.

Anse Reunion’s Malagasy Hassan Ali’s first minute free-kick was spilled by St Michel’s goalkeeper Nelson Sopha, but Hubert Ernesta had strayed offside as he tried to pounce on the loose ball.

In the 11th minute, Ali played a superb cross to colleague Hugo Sezou who just failed to connect with the goal at his mercy.

St Michel, who were dominated in midfield, almost scored in the 22nd minute from captain Don Anacoura’s inswinging free-kick which Anse Reunion’s goalkeeper Jean-Paul Ah-Kong allowed to slip through his fingers but sailed into corner.

In the 26th minute, Anse Reunion threatened to break the deadlock as Sezou burst through to pull the ball back to Hubert Ernesta who blazed it wide in a good position.

St Michel responded in the 34th minute from another captain Anacoura’s free-kick which was met by Malagasy Jean Del’Or Tsaralaza’s glancing header which grazed the crossbar.

In the 37th minute, Hubert Ernesta showed his juggling skill as he opened up the St Michel defence but failed to lob Sopha.

St Michel had the best chance to open the score in the 39th minute as captain Anacoura picked out Wilnes Brutus with a long ball and he held off the challenge of Anse Reunion’s Malagasy captain Jean-Eddy Ranjoriamihaja.  Brutus though shot straight at goalie Ah-Kong who parried his shot and the St Michel striker fired the rebound in the side-netting much to the disappointment of the St Michel supporters.

A minute later at the other end, St Michel must have breathed a big sigh of relief as goalkeeper Sopha brought down Sezou who had pounced on a poor back pass by Samuel Henriette. Referee Egbert Havelock signaled for a foul as everyone thought he was going to send off goalkeeper Sopha. Instead he issued only a yellow card.

On the stroke of half-time, Anse Reunion nearly took the lead as St Michel’s defender Dereck Agathine gave the ball away to Hubert Ernesta who headed into the path of Sezou but he shot wide.
St Michel pulled off the disappointing Brutus in the 57th minute to bring on Leeroy Corallie and they took the lead in the 61st minute from an inch-perfect cross by captain Anacoura to Tsaralaza whose initial shot came off the post.  The Malagasy striker got a second bite of the cherry to place the ball in former team’s net to make it 1-0.

Anse Reunion responded in the 73rd minute from Ali’s cross which was met by a spectacular volley by captain Jean-Eddy but goalkeeper Sopha easily made the save.

St Michel stretched their advantage in the 75th minute as Tsaralaza released substitute Gervais Waye-Hive whose deep cross was headed back into the penalty area by Anacoura to Corallie who, in turn, headed home for a 2-0 score.

St Michel were now on the ascendency and in the 84th minute, Anacoura picked out Tsaralaza with his trademark free-kick but the Malagasy midfielder, who had eluded his marker, headed wide.

On the stroke of full-time, Waye-Hive threaded a pass to Corallie who looked odds on to score but his lob flew wide.

St Michel though had done enough to reach the final where they hope to defend their title.
Manager Andrew Jean-Louis told Sports Nation his team will give a better performance in the final.

“We did not play as well as we had wished for today (Saturday), but we will give a better account of ourselves in the final as we want to retain our title,” said manager Jean-Louis.

R. J-L.

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