“None of us believe it.” The words come from Morgan Pottier, the strong man of Saint-Priest before the round of 16. The Rhone club, resident of Nationale 3 and winner of Sologne Olympic Romorantin (N2) in the previous round, could, of course, hope for a sexier draw, but is delighted to have a great opportunity to go one more round and get closer to 'a dream, currently still unattainable, the final of the Coupe de France. “You never compete in a competition without wanting to win it. Of course we dream of it, but it would be crazy,” exclaims Pascal Oris, vice-president of the club. “There are three games left – before the final – of course we are like crazy. An adventure in the Coupe de France, we won’t do it every day,” adds the man who has devoted himself to the Yellow and Black for around fifteen years.
Wednesday evening, the San-Priots should play in a packed stadium in Bourgoin-Jallieu (6,000 spectators are expected), 30 kilometers from the Jean Bouin Complex where they usually play, to face Valenciennes Football Club, bottom of Ligue 2. Reactions were mixed after the draw, the truth must be told. Many wanted PSG or OL (partner and neighboring club, Editor's note). But it’s a blessing in disguise, we believe in it even if it will obviously be very difficult,” comments the vice-president of the club.
Valenciennes, an important club in the French landscape, has been going through a bad patch since its relegation from the elite in 2014. Worse, the men of Ahmed Kantari, who took the reins of the first team last December - on an interim basis before be confirmed in the position until the end of the season -, are in last place in the Ligue 2 ranking, over a season... with 4 relegations. They only have 14 points after 23 matches played, compared to 21 points for Quevilly Rouen Métropole, 19th.
Despite the two divisions separating Valenciennes from Saint-Priest, an exploit from neighboring Lyon is fully envisaged within the club. “League 2 doesn’t scare us. Valenciennes is a club in bad shape in the championship. We think that they are not going to put the typical team in to try to save themselves in the championship, imagines Morgan Pottier, 31-year-old attacking midfielder from AS Saint-Priest, double scorer in the previous round against Romorantin. We will give everything to win this qualification. We are determined, it could be even bigger, we want to dream further… Either way, we have nothing to lose. We will play in a relaxed manner and we will not be afraid because it is a Ligue 2 team. That will be the watchword.”
Even if his time is rather past - Morgan Pottier is 31 years old -, this match will be played like a detection by the Saint-Priest players: “We prepare this match like a detection, we say to ourselves 'today is your day, you have to give the best of yourself, remember the way you whipped before.' It's not the same audience that comes to see us play, we know that potentially there are people in the stands watching us. A Coupe de France match can be a springboard. It’s an opportunity to show off, it’s great publicity. From the moment it is publicized, it takes on a crazy scale. Several days after my double (against Romorantin, 4-1), I continue to receive messages. There is quite a craze. It’s super fun.”
In Nationale 3, against other teams from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, AS Saint-Priest is in second place in Group K, with one match and three points behind the leader, Lyon-La Duchère. “If we had to choose between a final in the Coupe de France and a return to Nationale 2, honestly we would choose the climb, to continue our work in continuity,” puts Morgan Pottier into perspective, who will try to repeat his great performance in the round of 16 against the VAFC. “With the support of the public, everything is possible,” concludes the vice-captain of the Rhone club.