After a journey of more than 4,000 km from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, AS Îlenne Amateurs will play a third round of the Coupe de France this Saturday. A competition that only teams from the archipelago have had access to since 2018 and that offers them the privilege of going to mainland France, to spend a few days in Clairefontaine, but also to face former Blues international Jérémy Mathieu, who is evolving into Luynes Sport (R2) with the historical goal of qualifying for a 4me round.
By Alexandre LeBris
Located 30 kilometers east of Canada, the archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is home to 6,000 souls, slightly less than the city of Guingamp. If ice hockey is the king sport there, soccer tries to exist with its championship with three teams that meet eight times from May to September. But since 2018, a “big carrot” makes saint-pierrais players run a little faster after the ball: teams from the archipelago are included in the third round of the Coupe de France with a trip to mainland France at stake. This year, it was AS Îlienne Amateurs who got their ticket, eliminating AS Saint-Pierre on penalties in the first round, then AS Miquelon in the second. But behind this qualifying joy lies a real journey to move the 30 Saint-Pierrais delegation.
“Me, I go maybe two or three times a year, in mainland France, but for some, it’s the first time! » Mehdi El Ghazouani, ASIA player
An ocean separates them from France, so of course there is no question of going there on a sand yacht. “It is the Federation that manages all the logisticssweeps the entrance of Mehdi El Ghazouani, the team captain. There are several ways to get to France, I think we took the longest one. For the outward journey we had three flights: from Saint-Pierre to Halifax (in Canada, province of Nova Scotia, editor’s note), from there we arrived in Montreal where we waited eight hours for our last plane to Paris for a total trip of just under 24 hours. For the return we will leave Marseille towards Frankfurt then Toronto and finally Halifax where we will spend the night before making a last trip to arrive at our place on Monday morning. » A necessarily exceptional trip for these French overseas: “I go maybe two or three times a year in mainland France, but for some it’s the first time! »
Noël Le Graët, Parc des Princes and Ligue 1 referees
A true one-week adventure for which the entire team was able to make themselves available. “Bosses were nice, but it was especially annoying for the youngsters who took a week’s vacation at the beginning of the school year. In the worst case, we will ask Noël Le Graët for a few words of apology. , jokes the Yellows side, officiating in the production of digital content in civil life. The president of the 3F, the Saint-Pierrais of ASIA know him well as he received them at the Federation headquarters when they won their place in 3me turn in 2019. Rebelote this Wednesday where each one received a France national team jersey. “We can only be grateful to the Fed for what they are implementing for a small club like ours, for such a small archipelago.Mehdi testifies. In 2019 we were able to visit the Parc des Princes, they also offered us tickets to see the Blues against Andorra. »
The club chaired by Ludivine Quedinet, which has some 300 members, had met FC Lyon at the time, was staying nearby and had been able to train at Tola Vologe, the former Olympique Lyonnais training centre. This time, the Saint-Pierrais are even better off, as they are based at CNF Clairefontaine. “We are in new buildings, in large halls. The complex is super clean” says the player. Within two weeks, they could have met Mbappé, Griezmann and others. But not enough to alter his enthusiasm: “We eat with a lot of people like coaches who are graduating. There are also all the referees from Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 who are in training, we were able to discuss a lot with them. » All without the risk of carrying a card. Another part of the complex -and no less important- that the players of the Portuguese coach José Manuel Almeida can take advantage of: the synthetic pitches. It is on this surface unknown to all that Luynes Sport, a Regional 2 club located in Bouches-du-Rhône, will face each other on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.
“You, you come from Saint Pierre and Miquelon and you can face a boy who made the historic quintet with Barça and who played for the France team. » Mehdi El Ghazouani
Archipel, but not Archiper
We would almost forget it, but it is the main reason for this trip despite the smell of summer camp that hangs in the air. “It is difficult to concentrate so much on the game that we see new things. The old ones like me, we remind the young ones that we still have a game to playwarns El Ghazouani, from the height of his 34 years. There may be small jumps in concentration in training, but the coach also rethinks us. » The icing on the cake, the Aix-en-Provence-based formation boasts former France international Jérémy Mathieu (5 caps). “The corners, maybe we play them on the ground. It’s another distraction. You, who come from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and can face a guy who made the historic quintet with Barça and who played for the France team. But hey, you shouldn’t admire it too much, but take it from the brand. »
this 3me Luynes’ turn promises to be necessarily complicated for the four-leaf clover club. “Clearly we expect to suffer. Two years ago, against FC Lyon who had moved up to R1 at the end of the season, we lost 5-1, but the addition could have been saltier.remember the defender. Physically, we had hit a wall against guys who had just come out of prep. AS Saint-Pierroise beat Vertou (N3) 8-0 last season. We know that we will also have to be very rigorous in order not to leave any gaps. In any case, our commitment is to represent local football. » And that is almost the main thing, although we still allow ourselves to dream. “Who knows what can happen? » Mehdi El Ghazouani says that he has been clear that it is the cup of all possibilities, and he is not afraid of having to cross the ocean again for the next round.
By Alexandre LeBris
Interview by ALB.
#Ilienne #Amateurs #behalf #Saint #Pierre #Miquelon