Benin’s route to a historic quarter-final berth at the ongoing Africa Cup Of Nations has the story of the tournament so far. The Squirrels are yet to win a football match over the course of 90 minutes but oddly enough, they were the first to book a slot in the last 8.
To put it into perspective, the hosts Egypt and Morocco have won 3 matches but will have to watch the rest of the tournament from home after bowing out in the hands of South Africa and Benin respectively.
With 3 draws from the 3 group stage matches, Benin made qualified for the round of 16 by virtue of being one of the best 3rd placed teams. Against Morrocco in the first knockout round, the Michel Dussuyer’s side survived an added-time penalty to Morocco to force the match into extra time and eventually win on penalties.
More impressively, they did it with 10 men after Khalid Adenon was sent off for two bookable offenses including the one that resulted into Ziyech’s penalty miss.
Senegal, on the other hand, is one of the clear favorites to win this year’s tournament. The Lions Of Teranga, led by Champions League-winning forward with Liverpool last season Sadio Mane have arguably the best squad in African football.
Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the best center backs in World Football at the moment while Inter Milan winger Keita Balde is a product of the famed La Masia academy in Barcelona.
Interestingly, while Benin are yet to taste defeat in this years event, Senegal has already lost once to Algeria in the Group Stages. That result should give the Squirrels a bit of hope as they line up to face their quarter-final opponents on Wednesday.
Senegal has never won the African Cup Of Nations in their history and with Egyp, holders Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia all out, this could be their best chance. First up though is a tricky assignment against ea Benin side that has shown there are no small team in African Football!
This one should be a treat and Opera News will keep you update on all the happenings as they happen straight from the pitch…