France Ligue 2 – GFC Ajaccio Season Preview 2016/17

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GFC Ajaccio defence

The Corsicans look strong in between the sticks. Clement Maury had a good season in ligue 1 last year but he’ll be challenged by new signing Steeve Elana. The ex Brest man has sat on the Lille bench the last few campaigns but even though he’s 36, could easily start for most teams in Ligue 2. It’s going to be interesting to see who gets the nod, but both are really strong for this level of football. Defence has the potential to be strong, but there are question marks surrounding it. A lot of the regular starters from last year have all gone. The likes of Sylla, Martinez, Filippi are already at new clubs and it seems unlikely they’ll be able to tempt back Kader Mangane or even Alexandre Coeff.  GFC have at least reinforced wisely. Cedric Hountondji has signed from Rennes, a proven quality performer on loan in this division for 2 or 3 years now. Francois Clerc is another addition from St Etienne, and he could be quite a coup providing his fitness issues are over. Jerome Mombris from Le Havre is another useful signing.

Of course, GFC will still rely on Jeremie Brechet in the middle. Brechet is 37 now, a real dinosaur in football terms and surely this will be his last campaign. Pace certainly isn't his strong suit although he does still bring plenty of experience to the table. Another old relic still around is David Ducourtioux. He’s versatile though and can play in a number of positions in addition to being a strong dressing room motivator. GFC have some strong defensive midfield options. Amos Youga, Jerome Lemoigne & the newly signed Remi Mulumba are all well capable at this level. GFC have a lot of depth in this area with a lot of guys capable of filling in if required. The same can be said for the backline where versatility is in abundance. Despite losing a number of starters, I’d still expect GFC to be really strong and hard to break down in defensive areas this season.

Key players: Francois Clerc (RB), Remi Mulumba (DM)

GFC Ajaccio offence

Goalscoring has generally been a big problem for GFC in both of the last two seasons. Even in their promotion year, nobody scored more than eight times. Mohamed Larbi was leading scorer in both the previous campaigns, and considering he plays in attacking midfield that's quite impressive.  Larbi has outgrown GFC and will transfer away from the club very soon, I'm not sure where to exactly. Second highest scorer from their ligue 1 adventure was Khaled Boutaib and he’s already transferred out of the club. GFC are left with Jacques Zoua (who will probably go) and John Tshibumbu upfront, but neither are anything special. On the positive side, GFC have signed Yoann Court form Troyes, a versatile attacker capable of playing on either wing or attacking midfield. Sekou Cisse is another who signed and he did well for Sochaux in 2015/16 scoring eight times. He's more of a left winger but might eventually play upfront. GFCA lack a star player in the final third but they do have a lot of options and versatility in attacking midfield and wide areas. It would help matters a lot of they could find a proper scorer, a really good number nine, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Key players: Yoann Court (AM/winger), Sekou Cisse (LW/ATT)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

The man who led GFC to successive promotions has left the club. Thierry Laurey departs the island as a hero but he’s moved to pastures new in Strasbourg. Laurey achieved so much here with a limited budget. They simply had no right to get promoted considering the squad on paper. Few gave them any chance at all of avoiding relegation, or even reaching the 20 point mark. But they bravely took the fight until the last day of the season, falling just short. Taking over is Jean Luc Vannuchi following a reasonably successful spell with Auxerre. Vanussi never quite delivered in the ligue as he’d have wanted, but has demonstrated enough strengths to suggest he'll go well here in Ajaccio. The highlight of his time in Auxerre was a trip to the Coupe de France final. Vanucci is a very strong tactician and an excellent away manager. His style should suit GFC perfectly. One thing he never had with Auxerre was a fortress home stadium, but it’s the opposite here. Le Stade Ange Casanova is the sort of place nobody wants to visit and the pitch can get really awkward in the winter. I would expect GFC to be very strong here this season. The Corsicans have a chance of going straight back up at the first time of asking and look strong in defence and midfield. Perhaps a lack of goals, maybe coupled with some away problems could hinder them. But on the whole GFCA could surprise yet again and launch a decent promotion bid.

Prediction: 3rd

 

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