Teranga Lions chase fast start in AFCON qualifying

Teranga Lions chase fast start in AFCON qualifying
Senegal players warming up

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Jun 03, 2022. 15:00

Reigning continental champions Senegal will chase a fast start in their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign when they host Benin in a Group L match at the Diamniadio Olympic Stadium in Dakar on the evening of Saturday 4 June 2022.

Kick-off is at 9pm CAT.

The Teranga Lions have enjoyed an amazing 2022, winning their first AFCON title by overcoming Egypt on penalties in the final in Cameroon back in February, and following that up with another penalty triumph over the Pharaohs in late March to secure a ticket to the World Cup in Qatar.

Yet they already find themselves opening the defence of their continental title by tackling regional rivals Benin – with coach Aliou Cisse warning that the visitors will be no pushovers.

“We are going to approach this match against Benin with a lot of humility, because we have to stay focused even if we are African champions,” said Cisse.

“I heard my big brother Lamine Ndiaye say that Senegal is now the team to beat. But before we were African champions, we were the team to beat. Today, we will be much more. We must not forget that our last meeting against Benin was not easy. It was a very tough, very complicated match.”

He added, “[Benin] do not come as victims to Dakar. But we have confidence in our latest outings. Especially the last game here against Egypt. We must continue our progress.”

Benin are looking to return to the AFCON for the first time since 2019 (when they reached the quarterfinals) and secure a fifth qualification to the finals overall. Their attempt to reach the 2021 tournament in Cameroon saw them narrowly miss out to Sierra Leone.

In head-to-head stats, Senegal and Benin have met in seven matches dating back as far as 1961.The Teranga Lions have claimed five wins compared to just one for the Squirrels, while one game has been drawn.

The teams’ most recent meeting was in the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt, with Senegal winning a group match in Cairo 1-0 thanks to a goal from midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye.

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