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Rohrs’ biggest test as Benin hold champions Senegal in CAF AFCON qualifier

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Benin managed to hold reigning African champions, Senegal, to a 1-1 draw in a highly anticipated clash at the Stade de l’Amitié in Cotonou in their  CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifier on Saturday night.

It was a big test for Gernot Rohr, the former Nigeria manager now handling Benin.

A revamped Teranga Lions took to the pitch with Nicolas Jackson, Abdoulaye Seck, and Seny Dieng in the starting line-up but they were held in check by Cheetahs.

Defender Abdoulaye Seck put the visitors, who had all all their matches in the group prior Saturday’s match, into the lead before Abdoul Rachid Moumini piledriver restored parity.

In the absence of Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mané donned the captain’s armband, while Koulibaly provided support from the substitutes’ bench.

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On the other side, Benin sought to secure victory to bolster their qualification hopes under the guidance of coach Gernot Rohr.

Having already secured their place in the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal displayed their determination from the 4th minute, as ackson’s powerful strike narrowly missed the target.

The Teranga Lions unleashed a series of offensive assaults, testing the resilience of the Benin defense, only to be denied by the upright or the outstanding goalkeeping skills of Saturnin Allagbe, the Cheetahs’ goalkeeper.

It was in the 44th minute that Senegal broke the deadlock. Sadio Mané’s perfectly placed cross found Jackson, whose header was met with an overzealous challenge by Abdoulaye Seck. The defender made no mistake, finding the back of the net and propelling Senegal into the lead.

However, the second half witnessed a shift in momentum as the Senegalese gradually lost their grip on the match, allowing Benin to capitalize on the situation.

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In the 78th minute, Abdoul Rachid Moumini unleashed a thunderous strike that soared into the top corner of the net, leaving Seny Dieng, the Senegal goalkeeper, helpless.

Benin’s equalizer not only secured them a valuable point but also marked a notable achievement, as no team had managed to snatch points from the African champions in this group of qualifiers.

With the final matchday on the horizon, Benin’s qualification hopes now rest on their performance against Mozambique at the Estádio da Machava.

Post-Match Reactions:

“Both teams displayed exceptional football. One team showcased the qualities of the reigning African champion, while the other, our Benin team, demonstrated character by responding to Senegal’s challenge. We grew stronger throughout the match; although we were dominated in the first half, we managed to break free and impose our game in the second half. I was truly impressed by the fighting spirit of my team, and we must continue in this manner.” – Gernot Rohr, Benin coach.

“Compared to our training sessions, I witnessed some intriguing developments tonight. I am extremely satisfied with the performance that my team displayed. It was a well-contested match, although we didn’t emerge as victors. Our objective was to win all our matches in this qualifying campaign, but this time, a magnificent goal from the opposition prevented us from achieving that. I must admit, that goal took me by surprise; it happened in the blink of an eye.” – Aliou Cissé, Senegal coach.

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-Cafonline

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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AFCON

BREAKING! Nigeria Football Federation is finished with Finidi

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Following the poor run of the Super Eagles in the on going qualifying series for the 2026 World Cup which has seen the Super Eagles languishing almost at the bottom of a group in which they were previously the favourites, the Nigeria football Federation (NFF) that they has relieved Finidi George as the head coach of the national team.

Rising from a crisis-managing meeting, the NFF announced that it has resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

 The deduction is that the tenure of Finidi George has come to an end after two competitive matches as a substantive coach and two others in friendly matches as a caretaker coach.

Also, the NFF resolved to beef up its Technical Department with more qualitative hands. Equally, the Technical and Development Sub-Committee will be re-jigged with immediate effect.

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AFCON

Struggling Super Eagles to know AFCON 2025 qualifying round opponents in three weeks

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It has not been a pleasant outing so far for the Super Eagles in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. They have another nine months to wait to reset their arsenal.

But while the World Cup qualifying series go on recess, attention now focuses on the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.

In exactly three weeks’ time, the Super Eagles will know their opponents in the qualification race for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Next year’s finals, which will be the 35th edition of Africa’s flagship football championship, will be staged by Morocco.

Preliminary stage survivors Chad, e-Swatini, Liberia and South Sudan will join 44 others for the draw that will hold at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg, South Africa in the afternoon of Thursday, 4th July.

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The 48 countries will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying directly to the finals in Morocco.

The first two games of the qualification series will take place in the FIFA window in September (2nd – 10th), with two other matches in the window in October (7th – 15th) and the final two games in the November window (11th – 19th).

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are the runners up at the last edition.

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Date and venue fixed for draw for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 Qualifiers

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The journey to the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 will resume with the draw for the Qualifiers on Thursday, 04 July 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The draw will be conducted at SuperSport studios in South Africa at 14h30 local time (15h30 Cairo time, 12h30 GMT).

48 Nations, including the four winners from the preliminary round (Chad, Eswatini, Liberia and South Sudan) will be drawn into 12 Groups of four teams each to battle it out for places at the finals.

Headlining the confirmed Nations for the draw are reigning African champions Cote d’Ivoire joined by Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini and Ethiopia.

Others include Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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The qualifiers are scheduled to kick-off in September 2024 to determine the first 24 nations that will compete for Africa’s biggest event, the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.

Fresh from the thrills and successes of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 where the host nation defied all odds to claim their third title, a line-up of intriguing matches is expected for the journey to the 35th edition of the showpiece continental sporting event.

In attendance will be selected CAF legends, representatives of the participating teams, members of the Local Organising Committee for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 amongst others.

-CAF

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