Lavagne: CSC the surprise package

Lavagne, 54, spent a brief period in South Africa with Free State Stars, arriving with a glowing reputation with extensive experience of the African continent after spells with Coton Sport, the Cameroon national team and Tunisian giants Étoile du Sahel.

He also spent time coaching in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco since leaving his native country France back in 2007 before his short-lived spell with Ea Lla Koto.

Having departed with a tainted reputation, Lavange has silence even his harshest detractors with a remarkable turnaround in fortunes with the 2017/18 Ligue 1 Pro champions.

Upon being hired, Les Sanafirs were languishing at the wrong end of the table but in his 19 games since succeeding Abdelkader Amrani, the Frenchmen has lost just three games across all competitions. And he credits the dream start within his first foray in Algeria to his extensive knowledge of African football.

"My experience of African football definitely helped me," Lavagne tells KickOff. "I know the mentality of the players, the background of African football - it's different from European football and I can adapt my coaching towards it.

"And I know very well the CAF Champions League, I coached about 45 games in this competition and 20 in CAF Confederation Cup, all this helps me in my working in Constantine."

Having eliminated Ismaily and Club Africain in Group C, while overseeing a famous 3-0 win over Vodacom Ligue 1 giants TP Mazembe, Lavagne is confident his side has what it takes to go beyond the reigning champions of Africa.

"As I said, I know the Champions League very well and the players of CSC are talented so I'm not surprised by the recent results. And before the competition, I was confident and sure we can become the surprise package.

"I'm confident in my players and my player are confident in me, also I found quickly the good system to play and the squad applied my tactics very well.

He added: "I think it's difficult to beat Esperance but not impossible and we have the quality to do but we need to play the perfect game as we did against Tout Puissant Mazembe when we won 3-0 at home in January."

Constantine host Moïne Chaâbani side at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui on Saturday at 21:00 (SAST).