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From social club to African finalists

By Nick Cavell
BBC Sport, Garoua, Cameroon

Pierre Kaptene
Kaptene has witnessed the club's meteoric rise first-hand
Coton Sport's former club president Pierre Kaptene feels he is part of a 'fairy story' that has seen the Cameroonian side go from a workers' social team to the final of the African Champions League.

Kaptene has been part of the club's management since it was a company team for Sodecoton - Cameroon's largest cotton growers whose headquarters are in Garoua.

President of the club's board from 1989 to 1992 and head of the executive committee until 2001, he still sits on the board and is currently looking after the club's ambitious plans to build an academy for up-and-coming players.

Work on the building is already underway just outside the town.

The first chapter of the story of their remarkable rise came in 1986 when the club joined the Cameroonian league.

"Before us, the big team in Garoua was Etoile Filante and when they were relegated to the second division our aim was to get a team from this town into the first division," Kaptene told BBC Sport.

I didn't think we could get this far so quickly because when you see the best teams in African football they have been around for 40 or 50 years

Pierre Kaptene
"But it wasn't easy for us because at first we spent seven years in the second division and people didn't really accept us because we were trying to take the place of their beloved Etoile Filante.

"When we did get promoted to the first division [in 1993] people started to get behind us."

It is easy to see why the people of Garoua have taken to Coton Sport - since 1993 the club has either won the league title or finished as runners-up every year except in 1995 when they finished fifth.

In their short history they have won nine league titles, four Cameroonian FA Cups, appeared at one Caf Cup final in 2003 and now their first Champions League final against the mighty Al Ahly of Egypt.

But it's not just in Garoua that the team is finding support - the club are expecting fans from all over Cameroon to travel to see the final.

They have also earned admirers from beyond Cameroon's borders.

"We have even had emails from Niger from a fan club there - because a few of our players are from there," Kaptene said.

Coton Sport's stadium
Coton Sport's ground will host its first Champions League final on Sunday
"So we are taking our status outside of the country and that's an honour and a pleasure."

For the former president of the club, getting to the final alone represents a huge achievement.

"It's a dream [getting to the final] but we don't want people to think that if we lose we are not happy - for us being in the final is a fiesta," he said.

"If we can win it will be the cherry on the cake.

"I didn't think we could get this far so quickly because when you see the best teams in African football they have been around for 40 or 50 years or more.

"We are very young, so it's like a fairy story that we are in the final. But we won't stop here - better things are to come."



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see also
Coton Sport turn up heat on Ahly
13 Nov 08 |  African
Al Ahly 2 Coton Sport 0
02 Nov 08 |  African
Champions League statistics
18 Oct 08 |  African


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