WAFU Cup of Nations: Benin leaves it late, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal bow out

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By Momodou Gajaga & John Mendy in Cape Coast, Ghana                                         Courtesy of Fly Mid Africa Airline By Momodou Gajaga & John Mendy in Cape Coast, Ghana                                         Courtesy of Fly Mid Africa Airline
Benin left it so late against Niger to ensure passage into the semi final of the WAFU cup of nations 2017 at the Ndoum sports stadium with a 2 – 1 win.The Squirrels leapfrogged Niger to the top of the log on six points and will face Nigeria in the semifinals later on Thursday, while the Menas – who played much of the match with just nine men – finished level on four points with Senegal but advance on head-to-head results and will face Ghana in the final four.Senegal could only draw 0-0 with Ivory Coast in the other Group B match played simultaneously at Cape Coast Stadium. Had the Teranga Lions won, they would have joined Benin in the semis.The Menas were dealt a blow on the quarter hour mark when they were forced to replace injured goalkeeper Daouda Kassaly after a lengthy spell for treatment. Mainassara Yahaya came off the bench to man the posts.However, the replacement ‘keeper put his side in deep trouble just five minutes after coming on, as he committed a reckless foul outside the box and was shown a straight red card.Niger were further reduced to nine men in the 35th minute when attacker Mahamadou Souley picked up his second yellow card and was sent for an early shower.From that incident, the Squirrels needed just two minutes with a two-man advantage to level the scores at 1-1, with defender Rodrigue Fassinou scoring an equaliser.There was no less than 10 minutes of added time at the end of the first half, and in the course of it Niger needed substitute and outfield player Ganiyu Hutmanu, who was playing as a makeshift goalkeeper, to make a fine save.Just when it seemed Niger would hold on for a draw against the odds, Benin struck a decisive goal in the 87th minute through substitute Jules Elegbede. It proved to be the match winner and clinched a semifinal berth for the Squirrels at the Ndoum Sports stadium in Elmina.

Meanwhile both Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire have bowed out of  the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations following their goalless draw in Tuesday’s final Group B game at Cape Coast Sports Stadium.The Teranga Lions revived their hopes of getting to the semis on Sunday when they bounced back from a defeat to Niger in their opener to romp Benin Four – Nil in second round group B clash.But Tuesday’s lackluster goalless draw with Cote D’Ivoire cost them a nightmare as it was not enough to hand them a place in Thursday’s semi final after Benin produced a dramatic late winner against Niger at the Ndoum sports stadium, thus advancing to the semi final.Senegal finished third after locked on four points each with Niger, but the Menas enjoyed the bragging rights of their 2 – 1 head-to-head win in the competition.Cote D’Ivoire, who are rooted bottom of group B, could not also make it through. The Elephants exited the tournament with two points from three group matches following a 1 – 0 defeat in the hands of Benin on Friday 15 September. Cote D’Ivoire also became the only team without a goal thus far in the regional championship as they are sent packing.Both teams pushed hard for a winner in the final ten minutes, but neither could find a goal as they settled for a share of the spoils.

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