“I assume that we go down to N3”

Exemplary would be the perfect adjective to describe him at the end of the season. In this final sprint to remain in N2, Yann Djabou positions himself more than ever as the captain of this ship, which is teetering between good performances and regrets. Large format interview.

Objectif : What a season, Yann!

Yann Djabou: Amazing. Lots of disappointments, disappointments too… When we look at what we have been producing for weeks, we can have a lot of regrets.

How do you explain this survival instinct that you have at the end of the championship?

Out of respect for ourselves, for the staff, our club and the supporters. We were obliged to remain worthy and proud of our institution and the DNA of the club. But if there is an explanation, we will have to find it. Because since the second part of the season, we have produced the same performances… At the moment, we are perhaps more rigorous, we play with more carefreeness. Either way, we have no choice, we play hard.

“We feed ourselves with regrets because in these three matches, there is no picture. Collectively, I am not going to say that it is perfection but it is what we have been looking for for a while.”

Yann Djabou, captain of the OAC

Do you have any regrets about the season as a whole?

There are some. There wouldn’t have been one if we had lost our last three games, but today of course. We feed on regrets because in these three matches, there is no photo. Collectively, I’m not going to say it’s perfection but it’s what we’ve been striving for for quite a while. From Monday to Friday, in the group, all the players, even those who are not included in it, there is this atmosphere not of serenity but of tranquility, of work. And naturally, on weekends, this atmosphere translates into results. But I have regrets because all the players are performing well, so we win the matches and we say to ourselves “why today and not two months ago?”.

How do you explain the defensive solidity of the OAC in recent matches, with three consecutive clean sheets?

I’m not going to talk about the defenders or Eric (Moreau, goalkeeper, Editor’s note) because today the first defenders are our three attackers and Lucas (Franco, playmaker, Editor’s note) who we can include. When I see the races of Arnold (Abelinti, Editor’s note), Joris (Correa, Editor’s note) or even Wilfried (Baana-Jaba, Editor’s note), we see a riot of energy which makes our work easier behind us. We recover and we can continue. There have also been no different instructions since the start of the season. There is simply more peace and quiet. In any case, we are at the gates of the N3, what are we risking?

Throughout the season, you personally faced the situation, you spoke many times with the supporters. Then for many matches you have been the leader that the club was waiting for in these moments. How do you perceive your role as captain this season?

We can see it in two ways. I am captain so I have to assume this role when the supporters and the club are disappointed, I am on the front line. Some players are discreet but just as annoyed as me and they take on as much responsibility as I do. And either you confront it or you stay back a little and we’ll see what happens in the future. There are two different types of characters. There is also seniority: I have been here for a while, I have to respond.

Yann Djabou. • Photo Corentin Migoule

Your attachment to the club and the city of Alès is obvious. What defines your connection with the OAC and the city, especially since your arrival in 2020?

It is important. I arrived as a manager of the team and over the years, players left, then I got the armband back, rightly or not because it could have been other players. I have a strong connection with Alès, I experienced great emotions here with the climb, courses in the Coupe de , exceptional support last year, I got married here too. Last year, it was the most beautiful season on a human level, on a group and staff level. We felt that something was happening around the club.

Your retention in N2 now depends not only on your performance, but also on the results of other teams. Do you closely monitor competitor performance?

No, because I assume that we go down to N3 this year. We have been on survival since the . Every match we play since then, if we lose it, we go down. So I try to make the most of every training session, every match, every moment when I wear the OAC jersey. We have to take every match. There are two left, and to take six points. At the end, we’ll do the math.

Heading into these final two games, how is the group feeling?

Lots of enthusiasm, joy but also a lot of serenity. We panicked at one point, we couldn’t score – , – even though we were playing good matches. Then this series where we went from Andrézieux, Hyères, Évian, Jura Sud, where we panicked. But since we no longer panic, and this because the results are there, we are much calmer. Not appeased either because the situation is catastrophic, but Conversely we are calm because we have one foot in N3, we have to accept it. These two matches ( this Saturday and Bourgoin-Jallieu next Saturday, Editor’s note) will not be the easiest. We will play against free teams, with players who will be keen to prove themselves to bounce back next year too.

“Between us, no one talks about the future, we just say to ourselves “all that for that?”. Managing to keep up last year to experience a season like that… With a president who sets the tone from the start season to finally return this copy, it’s a task.”

Yann Djabou, captain of the OAC

What do you say between you in the locker room?

To be honest, since the last three matches, we all have regrets. We’re to win them, but obviously we’re not jumping for joy either. We tell ourselves shit, forgive me the term, but it really makes you laugh. Between us, no one talks about the future, we just say “all that for that?”. To manage to maintain last year to experience a season like that… With a president who announces the color from the start of the season and ultimately returns this copy, it’s a task. Nîmes Olympique, congratulations to them, even if I know that there is competition between Alès and Nîmes but as an athlete, I must recognize that it is beautiful what they are doing. But for us it’s not pretty at all. Sportingly, we will practically go down.

“Cape Town 2024 remains a failure. Whether the president and leaders have made announcements or not, this project remains a failure today.”

Yann Djabou, captain of the OAC

Your opinion on Cape Town 2024 which is causing a lot of talk given the position in the OAC rankings?

I’ve seen and heard a lot of things… Honestly, Heading 2024, that’s my personal opinion, the president suggested that we had to aim as high as possible. All N2 clubs want to move up to N1, but to achieve this, you need a lot of things. The president suggested that we were going to have a magnificent season in N2, which was a failure. Cape Town 2024 is a failure. He is not there. You remain a good group club, the team is very good on paper, apart from Le Puy, Grasse and who are coming up and showed that they are solid collectively, and I think we could have been part of these clubs. But on the ground, it’s us. This dark series stuck with us for a long time, we never managed to get our heads above water. Cape Town 2024 was not an invention either. When you finish the season like last year, we said to ourselves that he wasn’t wrong. Over the months, yes, we told ourselves that we had been wrong. Perhaps negative things happened: the departures of Nordine, Alain, Joachim, Brice, Abdou and the arrivals in the meantime… But as a player, we must ignore all that. Regardless of arrivals and departures, we must be 200% in the project.

Captain Yann Djabou in training • Archives Corentin Migoule

OAC supporters held up a “Direction resignation” banner during the previous home match against Fréjus. What is your opinion on the question and on the anger of the supporters?

It’s complicated to say. There are still people working. It’s like when I’m sure Facebook, being completely honest, I see the supporters’ broadcasts, the banner… Understanding their anger, yes, it is legitimate, they are part of the club, of the project. More than us anyway. two years, three years, four years, we are no longer there, they will always be behind their club. It’s their club too, I understand their anger, it is legitimate but we didn’t kill anyone, including the leaders. There we are talking about firing people. If you have to people who work for the club, you also have to fire the staff and the players. Logic would dictate that. There is a part of the responsibility of the managers because they are the ones who build a group in the pre-season, but when the season starts, there are the staff and the players. Everyone must question themselves in the face of this failure. The supporters too. There were times when it was really hot, very harsh words and actions. We are still humans, we are not just simple players. We must not put the blame solely on Mr. Bilange, Mr. Pasqualetti, Mr. Mallaroni and on all the volunteers. There are people who work here for free for the good of the club. Agree or disagree with this banner, I will not comment on the subject but it is too strong a sentence, because we are all in the same boat.

“We ate our black bread.”

Yann Djabou, captain of the OAC

How have some players reacted to certain criticisms leveled at them?

I have always said that I understand anger, it is legitimate. But there are words, sentences about certain players… We are among players, we talk about it, I’m not going to say that they were affected but “wow”! On Monday, they (the supporters, Editor’s note) return to work, their week continues and they come to cheer us on Saturday. Their trip to Evian was magnificent and I thank them, on behalf of the group, well done to them! But on Monday, we go back. We ate our black bread. And words about them WebTVwhich is otherwise great, but they were way too harsh.

You recently celebrated your 32nd birthday. Do you see yourself continuing the adventure with the OAC, even in the event of a descent to N3 next season?

To be transparent, it would be disrespectful to my group and my club to talk about my future today. This is neither the time nor the place to discuss my future. I will return to the subject in ten days.

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