Benin Republic switch off light at Super Eagles training

Nigeria’s contingent for Saturday’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Benin Republic hit the West African nation with much buzz, glitz and glitter on Friday afternoon, arriving at the Porto Novo Jetty in half a dozen boats across the waterways from Lekki, Nigeria.

However, reports coming in from Porto Novo state that the hosts have been quite unfriendly with the Super Eagles and the extended Nigerian extended contingent as the team trained in darkness on Friday.

 A Nigerian journalist Modo Victor Ekene who is in Benin for the match has reported on the attitude of the Benin officials to the team. He did so using his Twitter handle to pass a complaint to @CAF_Online.

 He tweeted, “Benin Republic have locked their doors on Nigerian journalists despite making the trip in. Allegedly giving only 5 media passes despite about 20 journalists spending funds to get here.

“Also denied us access to shoot our team 15minutes training.”

He added that the stadium lights were switched off while the Super Eagles were still inside the stadium complex.

“To add to this, team Nigeria trained in darkness for close to one hour at the stadium with Benin FA leaving them in darkness. Yes, the flood lights were off and the team still were inside for at least 30mins after this video.”

The Nigerian delegation was received on arrival by Nigeria’s Ambassador Olawale Awe, who led the mission staff to await the delegation and then accompanied the team and its officials to Cotonou, where the group is ensconced at the Golden Tulip Hotel. The Eagles will ride by bus to Porto Novo on Saturday morning and return to the Golden Tulip after their clash with the Squirrels at the Stade Charles de Gaulle.

Three-time champions Nigeria could make sure of a 19th appearance at African football’s flagship tournament if Sierra Leone and Lesotho are locked in a stalemate in their early game in Maseru on Saturday. But the Eagles are insisting on focusing on their own game and result rather than wait for help from one bumpy pitch in southern Africa.

The Squirrels, who sensationally reached the quarter finals of the last edition of the AFCON in Egypt two years ago before losing to Tunisia (losers to Nigeria in the third-place match), had their last training session at the Stade Charles de Gaulle on Thursday, with Coach Michel Dussuyer saying his boys are ready to calmly collect the three points from better-fancied Nigeria.

Dussuyer, 61, a former French professional footballer and well-travelled coach, is confident his Squirrels can sneak past the Eagles to top of the pool ahead of the last round of matches in a few days.

He is banking on the power-play upfront of the hulking Michael Pote, the defensive competence of David Kiki, Yohan Roche, Khaled Adenon and Cedric Hountondji, the midfield savvy of Anaane Tidjane, Jordan Adeoti and Rodrigue Kossi and the guile of Steve Mounie, Jacques Bessan and Jerome Bonou. Goalkeepers Saturnin Allagbe and Fabien Farnolle will contend for the number one spot. Allagbe was impressive at the AFCON in Egypt. reported that officials of the Federation Beninoise de Football were still awaiting official letter from the Confederation of African Football as at Friday evening on the number of persons that could be admitted at the Stade Charles de Gaulle. As at lunchtime on Friday, they were still being told that only 200 persons could attend. “We are hoping for a favourable opinion on our letter requesting that we be allowed to have between 1,800 and 3,000 persons at the match,” said an official of the FBF.

The Confederation of African Football has appointed officials from Morocco to superintend the game, with Rédouane Jiyed, a 42-year old who became an international referee in 2009. He will be assisted by Lahsen Azgaou (assistant referee 1), Mostafa Akarkad (assistant referee 2) and Samir Guezzaz (fourth official) – all Moroccans. The match commissioner is Yameogo David and Ghanaian Julius Ben Emunah is the security officer.

The match kicks off at 5pm.