Head coach Michel Dussuyer has picked a relatively strong squad for the competition, most of whom remain unknown outside Africa. Indeed, many of the players ply their trade in the lower French leagues, with only one inclusion from England. However, midfielder Jonathan Tinhan, who plays for French Ligue 1 side Grenoble, turned down a call up to the squad after being advised by his parents and club to do so, due to his lack of experience at senior level.
Goalkeepers: Yoann Dijdonou, Rachad Chitou, Valere Amoussou
Defenders: Khaled Adenon, Mouftaou Adou, Romouald Boco, Damien Chyrosostome, Emmanuel Imorou, Reda Johnson, Junior Salomon, Felicien Singbo
Midfielders: Gerard Adanhoume, Jocelyn Ahoueya, Dijman Koukou, Seidath Tchomogo, Pascal Angan, Mouritala Ogunbiyi, Arnaud Seka, Stephane Sessegnon
Strikers: Mohamed Aoudou, Nouhoum Kobena, Razak Omotoyossi, Mickael Pote
DOB: 8th October 1984
POB: Lagos, Nigeria
Current Club: FC Metz (Ligue 1, France)
- Omotoyossi will be looking to impress overseas viewers this tournament
Nigerian-born Omotoyossi began to represent Benin after an incident during a Premier League game between his then club Sunshine Stars FC and Enyimba FC. He was adjudged to have assaulted a referee and banned for five years. Although the ban was later lifted after video evidence showed he was not guilty of the offence, he had already left to play in Benin. Later that year (2004) he switched to Beninese citizenship, enabling him to represent them at international level.
Omotoyossi has previously caught the eye of a range of English clubs, including Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Sheffield United. His six goals helped former club Helsingborg into the last 32 of the 2007-08 UEFA Cup, and he became joint top scorer with Samuel Eto’o during the 2008 African Nations Cup qualifiers.
Omotoyossi will be heavily relied upon during the competition, but his previous good form for his ‘adopted’ country suggests that he will not let them down.
One to Watch
DOB: 1st June 1984
POB: Allahé, Benin
Current Club: Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1, France)
Sessegnon is probably the country’s most well known player. Versatile and skilful, he put himself on the map during two impressive seasons with Le Mans between 2006 and 2008. Arsenal and Newcastle United showed interest, but he opted for a move to PSG, where he gained experience in the UEFA Cup, and was nominated for the Player of the Year award.
During the summer of 2009, Sessegnon publicly requested a pay rise from the club, claiming he was “one of the best performers at the club.” This came after various clubs enquired as to his availability, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City. But two weeks later, he was given a contract extension and his desired pay rise, meaning he remained at PSG.
Sessegnon has often been criticised for apparently showing a lack of dedication to his national side, but he is such an important player on his day that leaving him out of the squad is out of the question.
For British Viewers
DOB: 21st March 1988
POB: Marseille, France
Current Club: (Plymouth Argyle, England)
- Argyle fans will be following Johnson’s progress with interest
Johnson had a choice of who to represent at international level, as he is legible for America, Algeria, France and Benin, but has now picked up three caps for the latter.
After making a handful of appearances for Amiens over two years, he had a trial at Aberdeen before moving to Plymouth in July last year.
Johnson has already shown good promise for the English side, and the experience gained from this year’s African Nations will be invaluable to the player. Certainly one for the future.