The Squirrels fans must have been going nuts. After 20 minutes, Benin looked to be well on their way to gaining their first three points of the competition, two goals to the good and in control of the game. But a series of goalkeeping errors from FC Libourne number one Yoann Djidonou allowed Mozambique to draw themselves level, the game finishing in a 2-2 draw.
Benin started as the stronger side and showed signs of being the surprise package of this year’s African Nations Cup. Indeed, within the first five minutes the Mambas were forced to block several goalward shots, from Pote and Omotoyossi. A goalmouth scramble several minutes later kept the pressure on Mozambique ‘keeper João Rafael Kapango. And after 14 minutes the pressure paid off. Rafael was adjudged to have tripped Mouritala Ogunbiyi in the box, as the latter rounded the former and prepared to shoot. Although Ogunbiyi appeared to go down quite easily, Sudanese referee Abdel Rahman Khalid subsequently pointed to the spot, and the midfielder picked himself up to put his side in front.
- Sessegnon powers through the Mozambique midfield
Mozambique then upped the ante slightly but couldn’t prevent conceding a second goal six minutes later. Ogunbiyi picked up a shot across goal and found Omotoyossi just outside the box. His shot was blocked by Sessegnon, and as the PSG midfielder attempted to collect the ball, his marker Dario Khan panicked, hooking the ball into the net himself.
The game so far was looking like a spectacle of poor defending, but the worst was yet to come. Only five minutes later Mozambique brought themselves back into the game, thanks to an awful mistake by Beninese ‘keeper Djidonou. A Mozambique corner was swung into the area; Djidonou leapt from his line, missed the ball completely and was too slow to return, allowing Almiro Lobo to head into an empty net and decrease Benin’s advantage. The Squirrels seemed to be running out of ideas, almost allowing the Mambas to draw themselves level in the dying stages of half time, but Muculmana opted to shoot instead of cross, which was successfully blocked by Benin.
After the interval, Mozambique looked more motivated. Khan redeemed himself by blocking a goalbound Omotoyossi shot shortly after the restart, and they were level by the 53rd minute. Djidonou left the penalty box to clear the ball down the pitch; unfortunately for him, his long kick left the field of play for a throw considerably nearer to him than he expected. The throw in was taken quickly, Domingues picked out Fumo, and the midfielder had the simple task of firing into an empty net.
- Coach Dussuyer watches his side throw away a two-goal lead
Both sides had chances to grab the winner throughout the remainder of the game, Tico Tico shooting just wide after 70 minutes, and a header by the impressive Sessegnon missing the net by inches. But Mozambique always looked more likely to score, Benin’s confidence dented by their shambolic defending. A dangerous looking gambole by Rafael in which he spilled a catch almost allowed Omotoyossi to steal a victory, but luckily for Mozambique, Kapango was first to the ball and cleared the danger.
Benin will be ruing their missed opportunity of a first three points in the tournament. With games against African giants Egypt and Nigeria looming, this game was the best chance they had of a win to boost their hopes of unlikely progression. But the workrate of Ogunbiyi and the skilfulness of Sessegnon could do nothing to prevent lazy defending and shambolic goalkeeping, which ultimately cost the Squirrels.