So how exactly did the Caribbean representatives fare in the latest edition of the tournament you’ve probably never heard of, the Coupe de l’Outre-Mer…
The chances are you’ve probably never came across the name before: Coupe de l’Outre-Mer. Standing for The Over-Seas Football Cup, it first began in 2008 and runs every two years.
A competition designed to have the national football teams of the overseas departments and territories of France play against each other. And within the teams playing in the latest edition (the 3rd), which was hosted in Paris, France – there were a cluster of Caribbean nations.
Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana all competed in what was a thrilling event. On a global scale, it’s rarely covered. It lacks the funds or marketing superiority to indulge potential audiences overseas. However, that doesn’t mean the level at which it’s played at isn’t a good one.
A terrific 84 goals were scored overall in the tournament, making it excellent viewing for the few hundred supporters that attended the games. The statistic may say a lot about the defences, but who cares when it’s raining goals? That’s what we want to see.
A terrific 84 goals were scored overall in the tournament
There were two groups, A and B, in which both had the exact same fixture shedule. Matches began on September 22 and they started with a bang.
Here is a rundown of each Caribbean team’s key moments, highlights and incidents – starting with Martinique.
Martinique – Spot kick heartbreak in the grand finale
Martinique were undoubtedly favourites to excel before the event had even kicked off. Having finished in the final in 2008, losing to Reunion 1-0, and then getting to the same stage again in 2010, this time winning against ironically the same opposition on penalties, much was expected from them.
And they didn’t disappoint. Guy-Michel Nisas’ men were the only Caribbean representitive in Group B, which consisted of Mayotte, Tahiti and New Caledonia.
In their opening game, in the late evening kick off, they edged out a lacklustre New Caledonia outfit 2-0 infront of 700 fans. It was a comprehensive victory, conducted tremendously by the team’s catalyst Kévin Parsemain (below) who bagged a brace.
The points system is slightly unique, though, as a win provides four points and not the three we are so used to abiding by.
So four points in the bag, up next were Tahiti on the 24th. This was a much tougher game, Tahiti were ruthless infront of goal and dominated in midfield. Jordy Delem and Steeve Gustan netted for Martinique but Tahiti were too strong and left with the win.
The points system is slightly unique, though, as a win provides four points and not the three we are so used to abiding by
In the final group game, Martinique made easy work of beating Mayotte who were coming off the back of a smooth 2-0 win over New Caledonia. Parsemain, Kevin Tresfield and Stephane Abaul were all on target.
So they topped the group with a total of 8 points, meaning they would face Reunion – table topplers of Group A on 12 points – in the eagerly anticipated final. Just like in 2008 and 2010.
5,000 supporters turned up at the Stade de Michel Hidalgo in Saint-Gratien to watch what was a fantastic, end-to-end spectacle. Tresfield put Martinique in the driving seat before Jean-Michel Fontaine, who finished the tournament’s top goalscorer with seven strikes, drew level for Reunion.
Gustan roared back to make it 2-1 but they scored with around 20 minutes left to take the tie to extra time. No-one could break the deadlock still, so spot kicks were forced upon us.
It was a exhilarating shoot-out, but one that saw Reunion win 10-9 and be crowned the 2012 Coupe de l’Outre-Mer champions. Heartbreak for a resilient, battling Martinique side who will surely once again be hot favourites next time around.
Guadeloupe – Hard work pays off as third place finish assured
Guadeloupe could not have endured a better start to their Coupe de l’Outre-Mer campaign. Placed in a tricky group with French Guiana, eventual winners Reunion and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, who made their international debut in 2010 – it was important they started brightly
Steve Bizacen’s troops ran rampant against Saint Pierre and Miquelon on the opening day in front of around 300 spectators. Vladimir Pascal secured a hat-trick and starred in what was a truly magnificent performance that built the foundations for the side to go on and make strides.
Fellow Caribbean representative French Guiana were the opponents for their second game and once more a convincing victory was confirmed. Goals from Dominique Mocka (2), Pascal and Teddy Bacoul meant their final match against Reunion was surrounded with less pressure.
A strong Guadeloupe squad exceeded all expectations by finishing third
They battled hard, Mocka scoring on the half-hour mark, but they struggled to find a grip on the game and would lose 2-1. It didn’t matter, however, as Guadeloupe were placed in the Third place match.
Referee Marius Quenet officiated what was a tight affair in Saint-Gratien but Guadeloupe just edged past Mayotte – who ended up second in Group B – thanks to a 74th minute Pascal conversion.
The hard work produced in training clearly was useful as a strong Guadeloupe squad exceeded all expectations by finishing third.
French Guiana – Admirable but must be more aggressive at times
Ghislain Zulémaro’s French Guiana are a national team steadily progressing on the international stage. This tournament presented the perfect opportunity for the tiny island’s latest squad to make a mark, and there were some good and bad moments to take from it.
They were unfortunate to face the impressive Reunion in the first round, they weren’t tipped to get anything and they didn’t losing 2-0.
In round two, Guadeloupe were the opposition and despite defeat – Cleberson Martins dos Santos, a classy midfield operator, was able to get on the score sheet which was a positive to take from the 90 minutes.
This tournament presented the perfect opportunity for the tiny island’s latest squad to make a mark
But the team would provide a shock in the final round, thrashing Saint Pierre and Miquelon 11-1 in front of just 50 fans. Gary Pigree hit five, in what was a sensational performance.
So the team finished in 3rd position on 4 points, meaning they would play Tahiti in the Fifth place match on September 28th. Samuel Sophie and Stephan Clet were on the mark as they cruised to a 2-1 victory earning a respectable fifth place finish. Work still to do, mind.
On the whole, it was the best edition yet. Plenty of goals scored, no draws and the Caribbean nations all achieved. It provided the platform for some of the tiniest footballing nations to take centre stage.
So two years down the line whilst you’re all occupied with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, why not take some time out to check out the latest edition of the Coupe de l’Outre-Mer? If it’s half as entertaining as this one, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
By Nathan Carr