S Setif defeated MC El Eulma 2-0 on Friday (November 5th) to head up the Algerian football league table after Day 14.
This is the first time for a team other than JSM Bejaia to hold the lead since the beginning of the season. Setif now has an opportunity to consolidate their advantage.
"We were expecting to have some trouble, especially at the beginning of the match, with it being a local derby," Setif manager Azzedine Ait Djoudi said after his team’s strong showing.-We gave our opponents some room to manoeuvre but were able to take command with two goals. After that we tried to maintain our advantage."
"Overall I’m happy with this win," he added.-We’ll try to keep up the momentum and extend our lead."
JSK were also victorious with a 1-0 win over ASO Chlef. Still, a run of poor results pushed them so far down in the rankings that even their three games yet to play won’t haul them up beyond the middle of the table.
A spate of managerial resignations has compounded the team’s current crisis. In what has been a veritable revolving door of club leadership, coaches have been fired or quit amid the turmoil engulfing JSK.
After the departure of Younes Ifticène, who took over from Azzedine Ait Djoudi, who in turn replaced Moussa Saib, it is now French manager Jean-Christian Lang who will lead the Kabyles.
Until their new French manager takes over, training sessions will be led by a temporary stand-in, retired Algerian international defender Rezki Amrouche, himself a son of the club. In 1995, he won the Algerian League title and the African Cup Winners Cup with JSK. After a stint with Club Africain, he again played for the Kabyles’ winning CAF Cup squad in 2000.
Amrouche expressed his delight after the team’s win over ASO Chlef:-The players pulled out all the stops to win and succeeded. We focused on getting the mental side of things right and the players responded well to that. We did what we had to do by taking three points and this result will do us a lot of good."
"I’d like to thank the chairman for the trust he placed in me," he added.
Club chairman Moh Cherif Hannachi was in no doubt that the result marked a turnaround in JSK’s fortunes.-It’s true that the team’s confidence has taken a knock, but our current ranking is no reflection of our worth," he said.
"The fans need to stay behind them all the way," he stressed.-It’s at times like this that we most need their support. The players are determined to excel themselves and do everything in their power to get back where they belong."
He was also full of praise for the team’s new manager, Jean-Christian Lang, who was introduced to the players before their encounter with ASO Chlef.-I know Lang, who did a great job with El-Jadida in Morocco. He’s a trainer and I’m sure he’ll make his mark."
"I’d just like to tell our supporters not to worry because we’re going to do everything we can to make them happy," he vowed.
For his part, Lang told reporters he is eager to begin work as the new coach next Wednesday. After he was contacted by the club, he said, his wife called to tell him that he had just received a better offer.-But I declined immediately, preferring to go with JSK," he explained. Lang left Moroccan club Moghreb Fes in early November.
In other Day 14 action, RC Kouba caused an upset by inflicting a 2-0 defeat – their first of the season – on seventh-place USM Alger. Meanwhile, RC Kouba, re-integrated into Division 1 after the season was already under way, are at the bottom of the table with 7 points. They still have time to improve their position, however, with nine games to go.
Elsewhere, MC Alger and USM Blida played to a goalless draw, as did CA Bordj Bou Arreridj and USM Annaba. CR Belouizdad defeated AS Khroub 2-1, while MSP Batna also notched up a 2-1 win over NA Hussein Dey. MC Saïda also defeated USM El Harrach 3-1.