After Tuesday’s embarassing defensive performance, Benin will be looking to redeem themselves with a respectable performance and, hopefully, result against Nigera. The pressure is on the Super Eagles, as they know anything less than three points today may result in a humiliating early exit for one of Africa’s biggest clubs.
- Nigeria will be looking to bounce back from their midweek disappointment
Although the dark cloud of failure is currently looming over Nigeria, their players, whose confidence will undoubtably be dented after their 3-1 defeat to rivals Egypt earlier in the week, will be determined to progress in the competition. As a result, they can not be taken lightly. 37 FIFA World Ranking places and several big-name players separate the two teams, and the Super Eagles will be looking to use their extra quality to grind out a victory.
Benin will have to be aware of the threat Nigeria pose up front and in the middle. John Obi Mikel, Seyi Olofinjana and Nwankwu Kanu are three Premier League midfield maestros with plenty of experience – their knowledge of the physical English game will certainly be something the predominantly French-based Benin squad will have to try and contain. A strikeforce of Nigeria’s man of the match versus Egypt Chinedu Obasi, and up-and-coming star Victor Obinna, will trouble Benin’s back four greatly. Any more goalkeeping errors by Djidonou will surely be snapped up and capitalised on immediately.
- More goalkeeping errors are not on the agenda for Benin
The Squirrels’ coach Michel Dussuyer has a large task on hand, to carry out the unthinkable and take points off the giants of Nigeria. Yet it is certainly possible if immense pressure and nerves gets the better of his opponents. Khaled Adenon and Damien Chrysostome managed to contain Mozambique reasonably well in defence, and providing Djidonou puts in a much improved performance, there is every chance they can keep out a shaky Nigerian team. Stephane Sessegnon will be motivated to showcase his skills against some of Africa’s most impressive players to help his national side to victory, if not to attract attention from other European clubs. Talisman Razak Omotoyossi and young centre forward Mohamed Adou will also be looking to put themselves on the scoresheet.
Nigeria head coach Shaibu Amodu will make changes ahead of this evening’s game. Former Newcastle United striker Obafemi Martins is out with a thigh injury, but Osaze Odemwingie will be eyeing a starting place after recovering from flu. A defensive shake-up is also on the cards, as Taye Taiwo, Yusuf Mohamed and Obinna Nwaneri appear likely to make way for Elderson Echiejile, Chidi Odiah and Onyekachi Apam. Dussuyer has little need to alter his team, other than possibly his goalkeeper, but a change between the sticks is unlikely. Instead, he will be relying on Nigerian-born Omotoyossi and Mouri Ogunbiyi to put in impressive performances against their home country.
It is not just a place in the next round at stake – Omotoyossi and Martins have a $25,000 bet on victory. According to the Benin forward, “I said ‘we (Benin) are going to win.’ Then he said ‘okay if Benin win, then you (Omotoyossi) will get twenty five thousand dollars’ and I said no problem and that if Nigeria win I will give him twenty five thousand dollars and we sealed it there. It’s a deal. I don’t know how it got to journalists but the deal is sealed. He is my best friend so he cannot run away.”
Unfortunately for Benin, Nigeria will show their true strength, defeating the Squirrels to avoid an embarassing exit and leaving Dussuyer to rue previous defensive frailties.
Benin 1-3 Nigeria
Sessegnon Obasi x 2, Mikel