Coton Sport's Cameroon quest

Coton Sport set off south to Zimbabwe this week, keen to restore the long lost position of dominance that clubs from Cameroon once enjoyed in continental competition.

The Garoua-based club meet Dynamos in Harare on Sunday in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semi-final, in the first appearance in the final four of Africa's top club competition for a Cameroon club since 1989, when Tonnerre Yaounde lost to Morocco's Raja Casablanca.

Cameroon clubs have won four Champions League titles, but the last was in 1980 when Canon Yaounde took the trophy for the third time. Cameroon's national side were also beginning their long period of dominance of the African game at the same time, but while the Indomitable Lions have maintained their position as one of the continental powerhouses, the results of clubs from the central African country have steadily declined over the decades.

Coton Sport were the first Cameroon side to make the league phase in seven years, and despite dominating their domestic championship, it was only this year that Coton Sport made it to the group phase of the CAF Champions League.

But the side from the arid north of the country have been making up for lost time this year, exceeding all expectations by finishing top of the Group B standings. Their 3-0 thrashing of highly fancied Enyimba in their final group match a fortnight ago means they will have the advantage of playing at home when they host Dynamos in the second leg of the semi-final later this month.

Gritty Dynamos
But first they must seek to keep the home strikers at bay when they play at the Rufaro stadium on Sunday against the gritty Zimbabwe side. Dynamos, too, have upset the form book with progress to the final four, eliminating Zamalek in their last Group A match to finish runners-up to another Egypt giant, Al Ahly.

A shin problem threatens to keep out their key striker Edward Sadomba, who must pass a fitness test before the game, and captain Murape Murape is still dealing with a calf muscle problem.

Already Dynamos have to play without first choice goalkeeper Willard Manyatera, who is suspended, although defender Sam Mutenheri returns after being forced to sit out the last game after an accumulation of yellow cards. Coach David Mandigora said: "The suspensions are something we have learnt to deal with."

The other semifinal will also be played on Sunday, with Enyimba of Nigeria hosting Al Ahly in Aba. The Egyptians remain on course for a record-breaking sixth CAF Champions League title, but will be alarmed that they have to play Enyimba at this stage of the competition.

Al Ahly, who were unbeaten in taking top place in Group A, would have hoped that Enyimba could win Group B, to delay this meeting of giants. Instead, the Egyptians can take solace from the fact they won on their last trip to Aba during the league phase in 2005.