Clinton Njie of Cameroon challenged by Steve Mounie of Benin during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match between Benin and Cameroon at the Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia on the 02 July 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Tuesday Jul 02, 2019. 20:00
Benin have advanced into the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in their history after holding Cameroon to a 0-0 draw in a Group F match in Ismailia on Tuesday.
The Indomitable Lions progress as runners-up (with Ghana’s simultaneous 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau giving them top spot), while the Squirrels came home in third but their record of three points and a zero goal difference is enough to guarantee a place as one of the four ‘lucky losers’ in the next round.
Cameroon created the first clear chance as early as the fifth minute, with Collins Fai playing a great cross from the right flank to find Karl-Toko Ekambi, but the striker was unable to get over the ball and put his header off target.
Cameroon skipper Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting very nearly broke the deadlock midway through the first half, opening space for a shot in a central position which was barely turned wide of the post by a finger-tip save from goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe.
Benin’s first real threat arrived in the 29th minute when a Stephane Sessegnon free kick found its way into a dangerous area, but Steve Mounie and Seidou Baraze appeared to get in each other’s way as the chance was spurned.
The first half ended 0-0, prompting Cameroon boss Clarence Seedorf to make an attacking change at the start of the second which saw the withdrawal of defender Fai in favour of forward Clinton N’Jie.
Yet the Indomitable Lions never ‘clicked’ in attack, with Benin working incredibly hard to ensure the defending champions were restricted to little more than hopeful efforts though the second 45 minutes.
The Squirrels’ endeavour was not in vain, as they earned themselves a first-ever spot in the knockout rounds of the Nations Cup.
Benin: Allagbe, Baraze, Adenon, Verdon, Kiki, Adeoti, Sessegnon, Seibou, Djiglia (Pote 76’), Mounie, Dossou (Soukou 68’)
Cameroon: Onana, Fai (N’Jie 46’), Yaya, Ngaedu-Ngadjui, Oyongo, Zambo-Anguissa, Djoum (Boumal 66’), Malong, Bahoken, Choupo-Moting, Ekambi (Bassogog 83’)