ROUND-UP: Africans in Ligue 1- Week 1
Guinea duo Abdoul Camara and Francois Kamano made the headlines as their goals helped their clubs to victories in the opening fixtures of the 2015-2016 Ligue 1 campaign.
Africa Football Shop’s French football correspondent, Jamie Barlow, analyses the continents players’ performances in the first weekend of the French Top-flight.
Newly promoted Angers got off to the best possible start by overcoming a tricky visit to Montpellier and defeating their hosts 2-0. It took just four minutes for Les Scoistes to announce their arrival at the Stade de la Mosson as Abdoul Camara fired past Geoffrey Jourdren. The Guinea international latched on to a squared through ball from Thomas Mangani before firing a crisp left-footed drive across the outstretched dive of the Montpellier goalkeeper from 12 yards out. Angers’ Gilles Sunu and Ismael Traore should both have doubled their side’s lead either side of the break but both missed gilt-edged chances. But deep into the second half Suno rectified his earlier miss by wrapping up the three points for his side after he unleashed a thunderous half volley which found the target to mark Angers’ 21-year return to the top flight with a victory.
Ten man Bastia came back from a goal down to condemn Rennes to a 2-1 defeat. Following a cagey start to the game Giovanni Sio headed home a pinpoint Ludovic Baal delivery from close range shortly before the interval to give Rennes the lead. Rennes’ advantage did not last long before Bastia responded to the deficit. French attacking midfielder Floyd Ayite was the man to level the scoreline with a stunning volley from an acute angle which found the near post of the net after the player converted Sadio Diallo’s driven cross. But it was 18-year-old Guinea striker Francois Kamano who stole the limelight by completing the fightback as the highly-rated forward turned in from a corner. Kamano broke into Bastia’s starting 11 last term and once again caught the eye by striking the winner. Bastia faced a nervy end to the game as Brazilian defender Brandao was shown red late on for lashing out at midfielder Pedro Henrique, but the club held on for maximum points at the Stade Armand Cesari.
In other news the efforts of Africans; Brice Dja Djedje, Mustapha Diallo and Mario Lemina were not enough to prevent Marseille from slipping to a surprise defeat to Caen. Marseille, who finished fourth in the league last season, dominated for much of the first-half but were caught against the run of play as Caen drew the first and only blood. Former Wigan Athletic forward, Andy Delort, hit a sublime effort from outside of the area on 27 minutes which flew past Steve Mandanda in the Marseille goal. Frenchman Delort turned and set himself well before swivelling and releasing a rasping effort which went in off the underside of the crossbar. Caen had goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre to thank for making a string of fine saves to deny Marseille a route back into the game. Vercoutre’s smartest stop came deep into the second half after he got down well to palm an Abdelaziz Barrada effort onto the post which bounced just in front of him. The news greeting the Marseille fans departing the Stade Velodrome following the loss was that of the resignation of manager, Marcelo Bielsa. Reports have emerged suggesting that Bielsa submitted his resignation prior to the defeat due to disagreements with the club’s hierarchy over the 60-year-old Argentine’s new contract which would have lasted until 2017. Bielsa’s departure comes after a single season at the helm of les Phoceens which saw him guide his former employees just short of third place last season.