Benin will look to surprise heavyweights Nigeria when they meet this afternoon in the first semi-final clash of the WAFU Cup of Nations.
Benin were surprise qualifiers for the final four, finishing top of a tough Group B ahead of Niger, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. Their crucial result was when they came from behind to beat Niger 2-1 last Tuesday night, with Rodrigue Fassinou and Jules Elegbede scoring the goals.
The Squirrels have beaten the likes of Cape Verde and Cote d’ Ivoire so far in the WAFU competition, so facing up to the might of Nigeria will not intimidate them. Coach Oumar Tchomogo and his underdog side will have nothing to lose, making them dangerous opponents.
As for Nigeria, they stuttered in their first two matches in Group A by playing two goalless draws against Mali and Guinea, but they upped their game against hosts, Ghana, last Monday night, recording a 2-0 win to join the Black Stars in the semi-finals.
Coach Salisu Yusuf will hope the victory over Ghana has set his side on a path to glory — especially as they finally showed some efficiency in attack.
“Against Ghana, we took our chances,” said the Super Eagles coach.
“In the first half, we couldn't score. In the second half, we scored the goals in our first two chances and we still missed some two chances.
“Like I told you earlier, it's all about taking your chances and doing the right things at the right time and you can win the game,” he boasted.
The winner of this semi-final clash will face either Ghana or Niger in the final on Sunday, while the loser will play in the third-place playoff on Saturday.
Nigeria and Benin have met in 18 previous matches, according to FIFA statistics. The Super Eagles have claimed 11 wins — compared to just two for the Squirrels — and outscored their opponents 42 goals to 10 in the process.