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Preview: Benin vs. Nigeria - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Benin and Nigeria, including predictions, team news and lineups.

With a place in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations up for grabs, Benin and Nigeria clash at the Stade de l'Amitie on Saturday.

Both teams are on course for qualification, but top spot is on the line as the sides are only separated by a point ahead of the match in Cotonou.


Match preview

Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr pictured in July 2019© Reuters

Nigeria kicked off their qualifying campaign with consecutive wins versus Benin and Lesotho, but back-to-back draws in the subsequent two games against Sierra Leone have thrown a spanner in the works.

The more notable of those stalemates was a 4-4 thriller in Abuja last November when the Super Eagles bottled a four-goal lead which they took inside the opening 30 minutes.

However, the 2013 AFCON winners need only one point from the final two games to complete the job, while one more victory would secure first place in Group L.

Goals in either half from Victor Osimhen and Samuel Kalu saw Gernot Rohr's men come from behind to claim a 2-1 win when the sides last met in 2019's reverse fixture at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.

Overall, Saturday's visitors have a historical advantage over their hosts, who they have beaten in 12 of the 15 previous clashes, losing just once in that time.

Benin coach Michel Dussuyer pictured on June 25, 2019© Reuters

Benin are also on the verge of booking their place at next year's continental showpiece that is set to hold in Cameroon.

Michel Dussuyer's men bounced back in style from an opening defeat to Nigeria, picking up seven points from the next nine available.

The Squirrels were held to a disappointing draw by Lesotho in the last round, missing out on an opportunity to move into first place.

However, they have another chance to do that this weekend as the current leaders come visiting, but they would need to claim a first win in four years over their visitors.

On a brighter note, Saturday's hosts are a force to reckon with on their own patch having not lost a home game since 2013.

Benin Africa Cup of Nations qualifying form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

Benin form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D

Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations qualifying form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D

Nigeria form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • D


Team News

Terem Moffi and Taiwo Awoniyi have been called up to the national team for the first time as a reward for their excellent displays for Lorient and Union Berlin respectively.

Despite having not played competitive club football since October, Ahmed Musa was included in Rohr's squad list, although the German has confirmed that the veteran winger will not play.

Kelechi Iheanacho has scored nine goals in 11 games since the turn of the year, and he is expected to lead the line for his side in this one.

Jodel Dossou has won Benin four of their seven points so far with decisive strikes in games against Lesotho and Sierra Leone.

Saturnin Allagbe missed the reverse fixture and he is yet to concede a goal in three AFCON qualifying games, but he is faced with what is perhaps his sternest test against a potent Super Eagles attack.

Benin possible starting lineup:
Allagbe; Roche, Adenon, Hountondji; Assogba, D'Almeida, Ahlinvi, Imorou; Dossou, Djigla, Mounie

Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Okoye; Sanusi, Balogun, Troost Ekong, Aina; Aribo, Ndidi, Etebo; Iwobi, Iheanacho, Simon


SM words green background

We say: Benin 1-2 Nigeria

A closely contested affair is expected in this one with both sides battling it out to secure qualification. We are backing the away side to claim a narrow victory and cement their place as group winners.


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Wednesday's key events


ROWING
· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

CYCLING
· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

DIVING
· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

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