Winner of the Toulouse leader on Saturday evening (1-0), AC Ajaccio retained its second place in Ligue 2 and will therefore evolve on the upper floor in 2022-2023. A denouement which could surprise more than one, as the band of Olivier Pantaloni was, a priori, not programmed to meet at such a party. But the Corsicans, who have made solidarity a cardinal value and have made their solidity a considerable asset, have absolutely not stolen their rise.
A yo-yo. Certainly, here is the object that best illustrates the sinusoidal trajectory of AC Ajaccio for five years now. One season to play the maintenance, the next to dream of the rise, and so on without stopping. The soft belly, very little for the Bears, who pass cheerfully from one end to the other of the classification, but never get bored when spring comes. Having managed to save itself in a slow way in 2020-2021, the Corsican club was therefore supposed to be at the forefront during the exercise which has just ended. Won. What we did not suspect, however, was that despite his limited budget (the thirteenth in the division) and his anything but flashy workforce, he would go so far as to steal a direct accessit for Ligue 1 Beaten by Toulouse, the men of Olivier Pantaloni validated their second place on the evening of the final day, Saturday, by precisely coming to the end of the TFC in a packed François-Coty stadium (1-0). “We would never have thought of that at the start of the season. With our small means, here, we had to have all these strengths of character and this solidarity to get there. It’s incredible. It was an extraordinary adventure that the players will remember for the rest of their lives.” admitted the 55-year-old technician, moved, at the microphone of beIN Sports after the meeting.
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Of course, this promotion of the ACA does not only make people happy. In addition to the supporters of the clubs concerned, many were nostalgic for the D1 of the 1990s to hope for a rise in Auxerre, with their often thrilling game, or Sochaux, finally emerging from its deep lethargy. Others also counted on Paris FC, so that the French elite finally has two formations from the capital in its ranks. These three will have to take the path of the playoffs, before an always delicate barrage against the eighteenth of L1. But over the whole season, it is the Ajacciens who – behind the Toulouse – have been the most consistent. They also occupied the leader’s chair during the truce, which proves that they owe nothing to anyone. Others will point to their poor attacking record (39 goals in 38 games, the eleventh attack in the championship), and it must be recognized that the meetings of the players of President Christian Leca were rarely the most spectacular. However, you have to know how to rely on your strengths, and that of the Corsicans was quickly identified: defensive solidity.
With only 19 small goals conceded over the whole season, Ajaccio has thus broken a new record for impermeability in the division. Their goalie scored 23 clean sheets, total PFC (2018-2019) tied. Gaëtan Courtet’s partners never lost after opening the scoring and won eleven times by 1-0. It’s not very sexy, it’s true, but the fact remains that achieving such a collective performance during ten months of competition is exceptional. And failing to have the players necessary to put on a show and score four goals per game, you might as well make sure to take as few as possible. “If Ajaccio conceded so few goals, it’s thanks to their entire team blocktold us Philippe Hinschberger, the coach of Amiens, a few weeks ago. They have two lines of 4 tight, and to find space in there, it is very very complicated. When you arrive against the defenders, you are already happy with the job that has been done before, because the attackers work a lot. Short, he is no longer 20 years old, but he is enormously generous! » The former Auxerrois and Rémois did not particularly panic the counters in 2021-2022 (seven goals, three assists), but he perfectly symbolizes the fighting spirit and the sense of dedication his team has shown throughout the season. practice.
The old guard and the local coach
It would be very difficult to bring out an individuality. We can certainly talk about goalkeeper Benjamin Leroy (who, at 33, was voted best goalkeeper in L2) or the revelation Oumar Gonzalez, a real rock of the hinge. Above all, we see that the backbone of this team has been evolving at the ACA for ages. From Cédric Avinel to Riad Nouri, passing by Mathieu Coutadeur and Mohamed Youssouf, without forgetting Courtet or Leroy, it is a group of grognards which constitutes the hard core of the Ajaccien workforce. By adding a kid from the center, Yanis Cimignani, and skillfully unearthed recruits (Gonzalez, Jean-Philippe Krasso), Olivier Pantaloni has found the right formula.
The coach born in Bastia also holds a large place in the magnificent ace season. It was he who, very early on, understood that it was in his interest to build a very compact team unit. His experience of Ligue 2 and his knowledge of the Corsican context have also proven to be very valuable, whether to avoid igniting when everything was going well or not to question everything in moments of doubt. On a personal level, this is the third time that he has seen a rise in Ligue 1 on the bench of Ajaccio, after 2002 (he was then assistant to Rolland Courbis) and 2011. His next mission will be to maintain the club from l Island of Beauty at the highest national level. It won’t be easy. But there is no doubt that his team will be a bit annoying for a lot of his opponents.
By Raphael Brosse
Words by Philippe Hinschberger collected by Loïc Bessière.
#Ajaccio #éloge #solidité