Benin vs. Mozambique Preview
The Squirrels of Benin are ready for the African Cup of Nations and they will look to pick up their first ever points in the competition at the third time of asking when they face the Mambas of Mozambique on Tuesday in Benguela, Angola.
Benin have been a country on the rise in African football but now it is time for the next step and that is by making an impact at the continent’s showcase event. In two previous appearances Benin has lost all six games scoring just one goal apiece. Their opening match in Angola has set them up with a perfect opportunity to grab three points or at the least one point. Mozambique are a side with even less pedigree in the 2000s than Benin having last appeared in the Nations Cup back in 1998 where they lost all three appearances. Mozambique of course are best known for their recent home defeat of the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in World Cup qualifying. That victory sent Mozambique to Angola and Tunisia crashing out of South Africa.
Mozambique probably do not have even players familiar to most fans but they are led by a Tico-Tico and Dário both of whom have over 80 caps for their country. For Tico-Tico it is probably his last shot at Nations Cup glory and Dário who is 32 will not want to let this opportunity slip without making his mark because he may not be back either. One name to watch is Mexer who has recently joined Portuguese giants Sporting CP. He will likely be one of the anchors at the back for the Mambas. The other name to watch is that of defensive midfielder Simão Junior of Greek club Panathinaikos. The 21 year old is highly rated having made 45 appearances for his club since 2007.
Benin boast a few familiar names to fans of European football particularly those following France’s Ligue 1. The only instantly recognizable name though is that of Stéphane Sessegnon of PSG. If Benin are going to make a mark in Angola then Sessegnon must be the maestro of the Benin attack. He is the most creative player on the squad and is truly capable of being a match winner. He is also a bit of a mercurial player who can drift out of games so Benin will have to hope that he is at the top of his game.
Benin will rely on Razak Omotoyossi of second division French side Metz for goals. Omotoyossi scored 8 of Benin’s goals in World Cup qualification and they owe a big burden of thanks to Omotoyossi for their qualification in Angola. Omotoyossi should get support from Nice’s Mickaël Poté who recently came off the bench and scored his first two goals for Nice in their most recent league game. Poté will be hoping to make a similar impact for his country. The other man they will look to for goals is World Cup qualifying hero Mohamed Aoudou. Aoudou is the man who scored Benin’s famous winner at home over Ghana in World Cup qualifying to secure their spot in the Nations Cup. He also scored the equalizer at home against Mali. The 21-year old currently plays for Évian TG a low division French side but he has shined in his national teams shirt recently.
Players such as the experienced Seidath Tchomogo who has 34 caps, Mouritala Ogunbiyi with 32, Jocelyn Ahouéya with 43 and Pascal Angan are likely to fill out the midfield along with Sessegnon. Defensively Damien Chrysostome of Turkish side Denizlispor, Khaled Adenon of French side Bastia former club of Didier Drogba along with Roumald Boco and Félicien Singbo figure to anchor the back. In goal will likely be Rachad Chitou though Yoann Djidonou could be the choice.
Here is the full squad list called up by French coach Michel Dussuyer:
1 Yoann Djidonou (Libourne)
2 Rachad Chitou (Wikki Tourists)
3 Valere Amoussou (AS Porto-Novo)
4 Khaled Adenon (Bastia)
5 Mouftaou Adou (Aspac)
6 Romuald Boco (Sligo Rovers)
7 Damien Chrysostome (Denizlispor)
8 Emmanuel Imorou (Gueugnon)
9 Réda Johnson (Plymouth Argyle)
10 Junior Salomon (Aspac)
11 Félicien Singbo (Lokomotiv Plovdiv)
12 Gérard Adanhoume (FC Soleil)
13 Jocelyn Ahouéya (FC Sion)
14 Djiman Koukou (Évian TG)
15 Seidath Tchomogo (East Riffa)
16 Pascal Angan (Wydad Casablanca)
17 Mouritala Ogunbiyi (Guingamp)
18 Arnaud Seka (Tonnerre d’Abomey)
19 Stéphane Sessegnon (Paris Saint-Germain)
20 Mohamed Aoudou (Évian TG)
21 Nouhoum Kobéna (Almadina)
22 Razak Omotoyossi (Metz)
23 Mickaël Poté (Nice)
Benin prepared for the Nations Cup with a 1-0 win over Libya at home in Cotonou back on the 6th. They will look to build on that victory on Tuesday agains the well organized Mozambican side. Mozambique may not have many well known players but they should not be underestimated as Nigeria and Tunisia both found out. Nigeria could only draw when they faced the Mozambicans in Maputo while the Tunisians tasted defeat. However, away from home Mozambique were not anywhere near as potent. This match is the best chance Benin have ever had at winning in the Nations Cup. It is the first time that the squad probably expects to win so it will be interesting to see how they handle the challenge posed by the Mozambican team which will probably look to keep things tight at the back and go after Benin on the counter attack.
I think it will be a very competitive match and Mozambique will limit Benin’s chances but I think the Squirrels will come away with a hard fought 2-1 win goals courtesy of Omotoyossi and Sessegnon for Benin while Tico-Tico will score for Mozambique. With games against Egypt and Nigeria following this one, Benin know they defeat the Mambas if they hold any hope of making it to the Quarterfinals.
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