Football - Rep of Congo: Julien Mette takes stock of his future at AS Otoho

Julien Mette entraînement AS Otôho
Football - Rep of Congo: Julien Mette takes stock of his future at AS Otoho

After returning to AS Otôho last August, Julien Mette (41) led the Congolese club to the league title. The former Djibouti coach looks back on a season that has seen the Oyo-based club achieve almost flawless results.

How would you sum up the season with two games to go?

It's been positive, of course, with the league title. It's the club's sixth in a row. Staying champions was one of our objectives. We've had a very good season, with a run of 21 games in a row without defeat in the league. It's been a great season. In Africa, only ASEC Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire, 25 matches), Mamelodi Sundows (South Africa, 23) and Al Ahly (Egypt, 22) have done better. The title was secured a few weeks ago, and we're now going to do everything we can to finish the championship well.

You left AS Otôho in 2019. How did your return to Oyo go?

At the time, I was general manager, but I had a disagreement with the Malian Aliou Badra, who was the coach. So I left the club, only to become Djibouti coach a little later (2019-2021). I was looking for a club, and I was due to go to Morocco to look at some options when the management of AS Otôho contacted me.

The team had lost the Congo Cup final and the directors wanted to change the coaching staff. I didn't hesitate for long. My proposals were accepted and I arrived in August with a squad that I was obviously new to, and which had been largely renewed. Then other players arrived a little after my arrival.

It was a complicated start...

Yes, after four games we hadn't won a game. And there's a lot of pressure here. But with the arrival of the last few players, a lot of hard work and time to integrate all the new recruits, we started to find our rhythm. The results have come and that's what's enabled us to do this series. It's a shame that the Champions League matches against Cape Town City (0-2, 0-0) came a little early, because I think we could have achieved a better result.

Julien Mette: "Here, the highest salary for a player is €1,000".
AS Otôho seem to have greater resources than most Congolese clubs...

It's a club with good resources. Contracts are honoured and we work in good conditions. But AS Otôho doesn't have the resources of other African clubs. Here, the highest salary for a player is 1,000 euros. The others earn a little less. There are also bonuses. The salaries are very reasonable and allow the players to live comfortably. You should also know that while we play our home matches in Oyo, the rest of the time we are in Brazzaville to live and train, because there are more facilities here. In Congo, league matches are played in four towns: Oyo and Brazzaville, then Pointe-Noire and Dolisie.

Have you started looking ahead to next season?

Yes, the Congo Cup will probably start for us in August. We don't yet have the dates for the restart of the championship. We're also waiting for the draw for the first round of the Champions League. The directors have assured me that there will be new players. As I've been given full powers in sporting matters, I'll be in charge of recruitment.

Does that mean you'll be on the AS Otôho bench next season?

Yes, we're well on the way to that.

And how do you feel about the rumours that make you a possible successor to Paul Put at the helm of the Diables Rouges?

Frankly, I think the most important thing is for Congo to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Côte d'Ivoire. They'll play an important game against Mali in mid-June (June 18), but they'll no doubt qualify against Gambia in September. I believe Paul Put is under contract until June 2023. I don't pay much attention to rumours...

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