BENIN’S national Under-20 team, the Young Squirrels, gave their Ghanaian counterparts a real scare in the first leg final qualifier of the Niger Africa Youth Championship played at the weekend.
The Squirrels stunned the Cape Coast Sports Stadium into stupor as they stole a 1-0 first half lead through Allagbani Saliou after 28 minutes, before the Satellites rallied up to romp into 3-1 win with goals from brace-grabber Richard Danso and Issahaku Konda.
But that critical away goal could inure to the benefit of the visitors who were tactically rich at the weekend and could be dangerous back home in the Benin capital, Cotonou.
Satellites’ head coach Jimmy Cobblah, agrees to this assertion but says his charges are all-too ready to dash for the jugular in Cotonou and return with Niger 2019 ticket firmly tucked under his arm.
“It’s going to be war in Cotonou; that’s for sure.
“We won’t sit back in Benin at all. We would carry the game to them. It’s going to be fireworks. Nothing else!”
According to Cobblah, he knew the Cape Coast game was going to be difficult, but the situation became embarrassingly sticky when the Satellites conceded early.
“My boys were in a hurry to score an early goal and ended up committing lots of avoidable blunders which our opponents capitalised on as our midfield couldn’t hold onto the ball.
“That early stunner momentarily disorganised the boys until we effected some changes and turned the game on its head,” he explicated.
He said the Satellites are going to keep their nose to the grindstone in Cotonou “for God to reward our efforts.”
Benin made their way to this final stage by flushing out the Gambia from the contention, smiling away with a 3-2 aggregate victory, having lost 2-1 away. They are reported to be solid at home, buoyed up by the chants of an intimidating crowd.
Ghana, on the reverse, booted out Algeria – drawing 1-1 in Algiers and wrapping things up with a 2-0 win at home.
The Satellites have not won the African Youth Championship trophy since 2009, having earlier clinched the coronet in 1995 and 1999.
Niger are hosts of the Under-20 Youth Championship which is expected to be held from February 24-March 10, 2019.