It won't be easy

Sunday 28 July 2002

I heard someone compare Haka and Egaleo to Rochdale and Scunthorpe United the other day. No disrespect to either but a bit harsh I thought. However, if the comparison was even close then Sochaux must be described as Liverpool or Leeds United.

By coincidence Fulham and Sochaux have met before and, quite recently. A friendly arranged last November saw us travel to the Montbeliard region to meet a Club owned and built by Peugeot the motor giants.

Sochaux are a side very similar to Fulham in many respects. They had a glamorous history up until 30 years ago. But since then, they had fallen on hard times up until two seasons ago when they were promoted back to the French First Division as Champions.

The similarities don't end there, Sochaux's new stadium, the Stade Bonal - Montbeliard is architecturally very reminiscent of Fulham's planned all-seated arena, albeit 10,00 places short of the 'new' Craven Cottage.

The place is very fresh and the officials welcoming. All in all visiting Sochaux was a very pleasant experience except for the extreme cold and of course, the result.

The ease in which Sochaux put a weakened Fulham side to the sword that evening will cause Jean Tigana some concern. Brazilian star Santos was a real problem and they looked a class act all over the pitch. We'll need to take a good lead to France if we're to progress any further.

The other thing that stood out for me was Sochaux's support. A crowd of 4,300 turned out on a bitterly cold night (and I mean bitterly cold, remember we're talking Swiss border here) and they were a very noisy bunch... Our travelling fans will need to be in good voice!

So if Haka and Egaleo didn't quite get the taste buds tingling Sochaux, and the prospect of Bologna in the Final certainly should.

Fulham team that took the field in France last year:

Maik Taylor, Zat Knight, Andy Melville, Kit Symons, Rufus Brevett, Jon Harley, John Collins, Andrejs Stolcers, Bjarne Goldbaek, Boa Morte, Saha