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Blog Posted in avatar   Johnny Summerton's Blog

Chambéry, French Football Cup's giant killers

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By Johnny Summerton
Posted Feb 3, 2011 in Sports
The domestic football league in France might not be on the same par as its wealthier counterpart across the Channel in England: there's not nearly as much money in the game and few teams have anything approaching the international status of say a Manchester United or a Liverpool.
But right now a club from the Championnat de France amateur 2, or what amounts to the country's fifth division, is having a dream run in the French Cup.
On Wednesday Stade Olympique de Chambéry, an amateur side from the south-eastern département of Savoie made it through to the quarterfinals after beating first division Sochaux 2-1.
Not impressed?
Well you should be.
Because not only did Chambéry do it the hard way by coming back from a first-half goal by a team currently standing 10th in Ligue 1, they also made it "three-in-a-row".
After eliminating both last year's beaten finalists Monaco and seeing off Brest in previous rounds, Sochaux became Chambéry's third successive top-flight scalp.
And that's a first in French football from an amateur team.
It's a feat that as far as coach David Guion was concerned almost amounted to being "a miracle".
"To beat three top division teams in the space of a month would have been unthinkable," a visibly moved Guion said after the match.
"Of course we're all incredibly delighted especially to continue in the competition and at the same time create history."
While Guion, who has only been coaching the team since July last year, insisted that hard work and hours of training had been the secret behind the club's Cup run so far, Chambéry midfielder Sébastien Pomel said there had been an additional incentive which probably made all the difference on the field.
"They're professionals and of course physically and technically they're much better than us," he admitted.
"What made the difference for us was simple motivation."
Chambéry will have to wait until Sunday's draw to discover who they'll face in the quarterfinals.
The other teams that have qualified are Lorient, Nice, Lille and Paris Saint-Germain from Ligue 1 and Angers, Reims and Le Mans from Ligue 2.
But Guion is not thinking so far ahead.
There's a match league match to be played this coming Saturday and Guion wants his players to relish their exploits so far in the Cup.
"I've not yet thought about the quarterfinals," he said.
"You can imagine that I want everyone to savour what has happened so far and I just hope we can find the energy to perform well when we play again on Saturday."
In reaching the quarterfinals, Chambéry became only the fifth amateur club to make it so far in the competition.
The last time was in 2008 when Union Sportive de la Jeanne d’Arc de Carquefou knocked out Olympique de Marseille in the last 16 before being stopped by the eventual beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain.

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