AFCON 2021: 4 reasons why the Super Eagles must be wary of Benin Republic
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are due to take on the Squirrels of Benin Republic in a AFCON 2021 qualifier in Porto Novo on March 27 and while the Beninoise don’t have the pedigree of the three-time African champions, Nigeria must be wary of their next-door neighbours.
Toju Sote details four reasons why caution should be the watchword for the Super Eagles…
1) RECENT MATCHES – The Super Eagles should take their recent performances into account. The two matches against Sierra Leone, the disastrous 4-4 come back and the 0-0 draw should be enough reason for the Super Eagles to take any opponent seriously even those regarded as minnows.
2) STRIKER WOES – The striking department of the Super Eagles is in a mini crisis. After struggling to bang in goals for Napoli initially, Osimhen got injured and is yet to regain his best even though he’s Nigeria’s leading scorer in the qualifiers.
Kelechi Iheanacho is still playing second fiddle to Jamie Vardy at Leicester City and has only scored one goal in 13 Premier League games this season.
Despite Onuachu’s insane stats at club level (24 goals in 28 League matches with Genk) he never quite does it at international level with the Eagles. AFCON 2019 topscorer Odion Ighalo, on the other hand, has retired so the Eagles may be short-handed in the goalscoring department.
3) GROUP STANDINGS – The Super Eagles with eight points are just a point above the Squirrels so a loss to Benin will see them over take Nigeria in the standings and, depending on what happens in the other games, it could put the Eagles in a very risky position.
Sierra Leone have three points from four games and Lesotho have two points from four games in Group L.
4) HISTORICAL FACTOR – Benin has always been a bit of a tricky game for Nigeria. In a 1959 game between the two countries, the Super Eagles ran away with a slim 1-0 victory, though in the next fixture the Eagles handed then Dahomey their biggest ever defeat on the pitch.
However ever in the 2004 Nations Cup, the Squirrels scored their first ever AFCON goal in a narrow 2-1 loss to Nigeria with Moussa Latoundji pulling one back for the Squirrels in the 90th minute so the Super Eagles should be careful and wary on March 27.
The game is slated for 4pm Nigerian time.