Benin will look to surprise heavyweights Nigeria when the teams meet in the first 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations semifinal on Thursday. The clash is slated for the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, with kick-off at 15h00 local time.
Benin were surprise qualifiers for the final four, finishing top of a tough Group B ahead of Niger, Senegal and Ivory Coast. Their crucial result was a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Niger on Tuesday night, with Rodrigue Fassinou and Jules Elegbede scoring the goals.
The Squirrels have beaten the likes of Cape Verde and Ivory Coast 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 to goalless draws and Mali and Guinea, but they upped their game against hosts Ghana on Monday night, recording a 2-0 win to join the Black Stars in the semifinals.
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, our first two chances we scored the goals 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.”
The winner of this semifinal 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.
Nigeria v Benin, head-to-head
Matches played 18
Nigeria wins 11
Benin wins 2
Nigeria goals 42
Benin goals 10
Culled from Wafucup.com
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