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Football: Airtel Cup |03 February 2020

Football: Airtel Cup

St Michel substitute, Malagasy Livakely bagged a brace to beat Red Star Defence Forces

 St Michel and St Louis make it to Airtel Cup final


Record Airtel Cup winners St Michel and St Louis progressed to the final with victories in their semifinal encounters against Red Star Defence Forces and LightStars respectively on Saturday afternoon.


Ten-man St Michel floor Red Star Defence Forces

Ten-man St Michel defeated Red Star Defence Forces 2-0 inspired by a brace from Malagasy Oliver Livakely at Stad Linite on Saturday in front of a large crowd.

This was expected to be a very tight match but St Michel had the first decent chance as early as the 6th minute when Malagasy Francis fed his countryman Evariste whose shot on the turn was well stopped by Red Star Defence Forces captain and goalkeeper Danny Larue.

However, there was a big moment of controversy in the 15th minute when Red Star Defence Forces midfielder Malagasy Clariel was booked for a dangerous high tackle on Malagasy Hassan Aly but the same Clariel committed two fouls within minutes which should have resulted in a second yellow card especially after he had been warned for another late tackle and was let off the hook for a simulation but referee Bernard Camille was too lenient. Instead, referee Camille decided to reprimand St Michel coach Nigel Moustache who contested his poor decisions.

Playing with three strikers, Red Star Defence Forces struggled to create any decent opportunity and Malagasy Tojo had a half chance just past the half hour mark from Jocelyn Fenosoa’s inswinging corner and his header at the back post grazed the outside of the post for a goalless first half.

There was controversy in the 55th minute when Jocelyn raced clear but was correctly flagged offside but St Michel goalkeeper Alvin Michel made a gross error as he clumsily kicked out at the Red Star Defence Forces striker who went down in a heap.

After some pushing and shoving, referee Camille this time had no hesitation to dish out a straight red card to reduce St Michel to 10 men and the eastern Mahé club had to readjust as they pulled off right back Jimmy Bijoux and in came goalkeeper Jalyl Servina.

The man shortage seemed to reinvigorate St Michel as they passed the ball around and in the 69th minute Evariste’s teasing cross across the face of goal was almost deflected into his own net by defender Laurel Ladouce if not for a vigilant goalkeeper Larue who blocked the ball with his leg.

St Michel were forced to replace the injured Francis in the 72nd minute by Oliver Livakely who had been left on the bench as he tried to force a transfer to a club in Reunion but the league leaders were not willing to release him.

Livakely showed why his service is demanded in the region nine minutes later as he linked up with Aly before curling a cracking shot from the edge fo the penalty area past a stranded goalkeeper Larue to make it 1-0, much to the delight of the St Michel supporters.

On the stroke of fulltime, Livakely exchanged passes with Evariste but defender Ladouce seemed to have the ball covered but he gave the ball away to Livakely whose instinctive shot inside the penalty area crept into the net for a 2-0 victory against a very poor Red Star Defence Forces whose attack failed to trouble St Michel despite the man advantage.

St Michel manager Andrew Jean-Louis was full of praise for his players who battled hard despite playing with 10 men for most of the second half.

“It is a very good win as the players worked hard especially when we were down to 10 and they showed commitment as we managed to contain our opponents and we are very happy to reach the final,” the St Michel manager Jean-Louis told Sports NATION.

As for Red Star Defence Forces manager Philip Barbe, he was quite expectedly disappointed with his team’s below-par performance.

“The players did not show any hunger and willingness to fight for a win and even against 10 men they did not show any commitment and it is a very disappointing performance,” the army team’s manager Barbe said.


St Louis sink Cup holders LightStars

St Louis came from behind to beat Cup holders LightStars 2-1 at Stad Amitié on Saturday afternoon to book their place in the final this Saturday in what is going to be an all Saints affair.

LightStars, whose coach Ted Esther is in Germany following a short coaching course, opened the scoring through Renick Esther for a 1-0 lead at half-time.

St Louis though raised their game in the second period and drew level through their latest import, Nigerian James Joseph to make it 1-1 and Malagasy Tahiry scored the winner midway in the second period for a final 2-1 scoreline.


R. J-L.

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