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Lobi Stars begin continental campaign with loss

Football
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Franck Kom set to be central to Esperance's CAF CL chances

Cameroon midfielder Franck Kom is set to play a key role for Esperance when they meet Al-Ahly on Friday in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final.

The midfielder is gearing up for one of the biggest matches of his career, and may be quietly confident that his recent form could see him muscle his way into Clarence Seedorf's Cameroon squad.

Kom hasn't had things all his own way since bursting onto the scene with local side Panthére du Ndé, but has bounced back impressively since a failed move to Germany.

He left Cameroon for Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in 2012 - making 110 appearances and scoring three goals in four seasons.

Despite securing a move to German second division side Karlsruher SC in 2016, Kom returned to Tunisia in mid-2017, signing for Esperance amidst interest from his former employers.

He's scored twice in 40 outings since returning to North Africa, and has played a key role in Esperance's run to the final, with his energy and tirelessness shining through in some dramatic contests where the Tunisian giants haven't always had things their own way.

He shone in the 4-2 victory over Primeiro de Agosto in the second leg of the semi-final, playing an influential role in the heart of the park as Esperance battled back late to secure unlikely progress.

Certainly, Esperance can be quietly confident that their midfield can give them the edge against Ahly, where Kom is partnered by Tunisia international Ghaylen Chaaleli and Fousseny Coulibaly.

The trio will protect the defence, battle all day, and each have the dynamism to link the backline and the attack.

In September, Kom won the Foot24 Coca Cola award - the accolade given to the best player in the Tunisian top flight - as his influence for Esperance begins to earn wider acknowledgement, and he's in fine form heading into the continental showpiece.

Timing could also be on Kom's side as he looks to force his way back into international contention after being discarded by the Lions since being included in their AFCON 2017-winning squad.

He's yet to be considered by new Cameroon boss Seedorf, and while the midfielder refused to comment on whether his current form could pique the Dutchman's interest, clearly he still has something to offer the Lions.

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