Benin out to shock mighty Egyptians

2010-01-19 12:36

The Africa Cup of Nations Group C game between Egypt and Benin

Benguela, Angola, on Wednesday will match the continent’s heavyweights up

against the underdogs, who are fired-up to get their first-ever win in the

competition.

The Squirrels are third in Group C with a point from two matches,

but still have a chance of progressing to the next round if they shock the

African champions and second-placed Nigeria lose to Mozambique.

“We have not given up yet because we still have a match to play and

if we get the results we wish for, we could still remain in the tournament. We

will fight till the end,” said Benin coach Michel Dessuyer.

Benin have already pulled off a shock result in the qualifiers when

they pipped the Black Stars of Ghana 1-0 at home in September courtesy of a late

winner by youngster Mohammed Aoudou.

Six-time champions Egypt, on the other hand, will be hoping to

extend a new record of going unbeaten in 15 matches in the championship since

the 2004 tournament, where they lost 2-1 to bitter regional rivals

Algeria.

The previous record of 14 games without defeat was held by

Cameroon, who achieved this record between 1984 and 1988.

The Pharaohs are top of Group C after they recorded maximum points

from their first two matches against Nigeria and Mozambique.

They thus became the second team after the Ivory Coast to reach the

last eight in Angola and as a result coach Hassan Shehata will give several

fringe players a run out against the Squirrels on Wednesday.

Shehata has disclosed that first-choice goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary

will, along with several other key players like Al Ahly central defender Wael

Gomaa, be rested and so afford him an opportunity to assess the likes of ENPPI

midfielder Abdelaziz Tawfik and Moatasem Salem from Ismaila.

The Egypt coach has bemoaned the lack of quality goalkeepers in the

country, even suggesting that foreign goalkeepers be banned from the domestic

championship so that young home-grown goalkeepers get a better chance to come

through.

Skipper Ahmed Hassan (34) will also be in action for his 169th cap

to equal the all-time Egyptian record of 169 caps set by striker Hossam

Hassan.

Two strikes in as many matches as a second-half substitute have

thrown the spotlight on Al-Ittihad midfielder Mohamed ’Gedo’ Nagy in

Benguela.

He is now likely to start against a Benin team, who will be missing

their biggest star, Stephane Sessegnon of Paris Saint-Germain through

suspension.

Dessuyer, will most probably play either the diminutive Arnaud Seka

or Pascal Angan in place of Sessegnon.

Seka is the shortest player at the tournament, standing at only

about 1.5m. He was the crowd favourite when he came on as a late substitute

against Nigeria, while Angan is a 23-year-old attacking midfielder who plays his

club football in Morocco.

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