Benin enjoying historic moment among big guns

Benin fans during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match between Benin and Cameroon at the Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia on the 02 July 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Having collected three points only from as many games in the group stage, Benin accomplished one of the their best achievement in their footballing history after advancing to the Round of 16 at the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019.

It’s an unprecedented success for Michel Dussuyer’s men as it’s the first time for Benin to reach this stage, having stumbled in the group stage in three previous attempts in 2004 (finished in fourth position behind Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa) and in 2008 (finished fourth too behind Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Mali).

In 2010, Les Ecureuils yet again failed to go past the group stage. But they made history by collecting their first point in the tournament thanks to a 2-2 stalemate against Mozambique. They finished third in their group below eventual champions Egypt and Nigeria.

Their first win in the competition is yet to see the light of day. However, they managed to scrap through to the next round with three draws; against Ghana (2-2), Guinea-Bissau and Cameron (0-0).

In the last-16 round, their dreams will have a tough encounter versus Morocco, but their hopes will stand firm to make further progress in the tournament.

After nine years since their last participation in the event, Benin makes a stunning return to the Total Africa Cup of Nations under the leadership of Dussuyer who wasn’t afraid to underline his team’s ambitions in the press conference prior their game against Morocco, stating: “We are ready to face any team.”

And to fuel his men with motivation, he usually praises them. “I have a strong group of players who have great capabilities and the desire to get great results to make our fans happy,” he once underscored.

After one minute 44 seconds from the kick-off whistle, Benin’s player Mikael Pote scored what till now remains the fastest goal at the tournament against Ghana. His two goals ranks him amongst the top scorers, sharing the spot with other players.