Nigeria’s next door neighbours, Benin Republic have gained a symbolic edge ahead of their opponents in Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, as they will line out a squad loaded to the hilt with foreign-based stars, megasportsarena.com reports.
In contrast with Nigeria, who have been forced to call-up four home-based players, on account of withdrawals by some of the original invitees due to COVID-19 restrictions at their various bases in Europe, The Squirrels finally got the full array of their icons from France.
The Squirrels’ coach, Michel Dussuyer would be glad to see that several of his France-based stars, who were previously in danger of missing the AFCON qualifies against Nigeria and Sierra Leone have landed in Cotonou.
Dussuyer disclosed that former West Bromwich Albion forward, Stephane Sessegnon, who has been without a club, has been officially invited to the camp in order to spur the team to victory against Nigeria and Sierra Leone, but will not see action and was not listed on the 23-man squad.
The French tactician, who on Monday finally announced his squad for the decisive AFCON 2022 qualifiers with not a single player named from the domestic league, is keeping faith with the like of goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe, defenders Youssouf Assogba, Cedric Hountondji, Emmanuel Imorou as well as forwards Josel Dossu and Steve Mounie.
This comes after the French government relaxed travel restrictions concerning players in the country’s top two football divisions, Ligue 1 and 2, thereby according Dussuyer the privilege of gaining the presence of his best players and now posing a huge threat to the Nigerians.
Benin, who lost the reverse tie 2-1 two years ago, will qualify for the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon with a win over the Eagles on Saturday in Porto-Novo, ahead of which an official informed SCORENigeria: “The players mostly from France arrived last night and many more are expected.”
Benin occupy second spot in Group L with seven points from four games and Dussuyer sounded upbeat in his first press briefing after announcing his list of invitees for Saturday’s game at Stade Charles de Gaulle.
Beating the three-time African champions no doubt will be a tough task for Benin, but Dussuyer is adamant it is achievable for The Squirrels, who have won two and drawn one of their last three games in the qualifiers since their opening loss to the Eagles in Uyo.
Dussuyer enthused:”We have respect for Nigeria but we also have our assets. We will approach the game with a lot of seriousness and determination. We know what we have to do. On Saturday our ambition is to win. It will not be an easy task. We have hopes.”