Group C Clanger: Benin vs Mozambique

13 Jan

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The stage was set for The Squirrels of Benin to take advantage of Nigeria’s earlier slip up and put themselves in a great position going into the next games of the group stage. Benin, an unknown underdog, pride themselves on their star player Sessegnon, who promised a solid performance against the even lesser renowned Mozambicans. Having between them never won an Africa Cup of Nations game, the teams looked to provide a spectacle not to mention the spoils of taking home the mantle of a full 3 points from their opening game at the 2010 competition.

Sessegnon, and the well organised Benin, came forward and pressed home an obvious skill advantage over Mozambique early on, seeing shots saved or go wide as early as the fourth minute. But it took 14 minutes before the real action begun. Omotoyossi won a penalty after being hauled down by Mozambican number 1 Rafael. He picked himself up, shot hard and down the middle. It was one of those,
“If Rafael stayed still he would have ended up inside the goal”
moments. 1 – 0

Sessegnon grew into the game and saw more of the ball. After some trickery outside the box a good cross lead to Benin’s second. After a few deflections in the box, the ball was lashed into the net from close range by… Khan… Mozambique’s right back! as he chose an unorthodox method of clearing and found the back of his own net. 2 – 0

You would be forgiven if, like me, you forgot that this is 2010: the year of the comeback. I’ll admit at this point predicting one of those 8 – 0 drubbings that become almost boring and you find yourself cheering for the underdog when they finally get out of their own half! However, Mozambique can be added to the list of teams affected by some unreported postal strike… or they simply had not read the script.

In another goalkeeping calamity, Djidonou handed The Mambas a lifeline when he came careering off his line to claim a corner. When you see a keeper that confident and committed to catching a ball, you think he’s got it under control. Not in 2010. Djidonou completely missed the ball, got up and stood looking around vacantly. The ball looped off a defender and towards Lobo, who rose and headed into a virtually unguarded net. 2 – 1

Not again I heard myself say. Benin remained calm, controlling the ball and the tempo of the game, but Mozambique were gradually clawing their way back into this one. They showed good width and continually probed, with both wings supplying quality crosses. If only the connections where of a similar standard.

In the second half Benin almost got off to a flyer with Omotoyossi coming close. Mozambique found their composure and equalised 10 minutes later. Djidonou made a risky, but right, decision to rush out of his box and clear with the winger closing in on a ball over the top. Much to his anguish, the quick-thinking Bila, picked up a replacement ball – a good minute before the ball Djidonou had blasted far into touch had even started its down-tend – threw it in; the cross found Fumo who blasted into an open net! 2 – 2

The Squirrels found they were forced to come out and play again having lead by 2. They now looked the lesser side with Sessegnon quietened and the Mambas fervent. Benin almost found themselves 3 – 2 down but for the fingertip save by Djidonou.

The Mambas were confident throughout, with Rafael joining in on the act and making important saves to redeem his first half blunders… I spoke too soon. He then tried to break his own neck when picking up the ball! For some reason, he tried to somersault over the ball… while picking it up! The result wasn’t pretty. Rafael landed awkwardly on his neck and badly needed the magic sponge!

In another twisting and turning game I’m left wondering 2 things:
What shockers could Group D have in store for us tomorrow?
What is going on with the goalkeepers?

Man of the Match:hard to pick as no one really stood head and shoulders above the rest. I’ll go with Omotoyosi who gave the defence no end of headaches.

Goal of the Match: simply has to be the quick throw in. Thank FIFA for multi-ball!

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