Benin shock Nigeria, claim top spot in Group C

Benin shock Nigeria, claim top spot in Group C
Steve Mounie of Benin celebrates goal with teammates during the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers match between Benin and Nigeria at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Cote dIvoire on 10 June 2024 ©Alou Dao/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jun 10, 2024. 20:20

Group C in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers continues to throw up surprises, with Benin claiming a 2-1 win over heavyweights Nigeria at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Monday evening.

The Super Eagles appeared to be on course for victory when they opened the scoring via Raphael Onyedika, but the Cheetahs struck via Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie.

The result sees Benin – led by former Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr – leapfrog to the top of the group on seven points. The Super Eagles are fifth on three points, having failed to win any of their four matches thus far.

Both teams were cautious in the opening stages, though Nigeria were somewhat more proactive and had half-chances for Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ademola Lookman inside the first 20 minutes.

And the away side claimed the lead in the 28th minute via Raphael Onyedika, who latched onto Samuel Chukwueze’s cut back before providing a composed finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Benin struck back in the 37th minute, as Jodel Dossou capitalised on some poor play from Calvin Bassey, picked up the ball and struck a cool finish past goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali for 1-1.

Dossou soon made way for Aiyegun Tosin due to an injury, but the substitute made a key impact when he assisted Steve Mounie in added time before the break, as the veteran hit a right-footed shot home to see the ‘hosts’ enjoy a 2-1 lead at half time.

Nigeria made a couple of attacking changes early in the second stanza, sending on forwards Victor Boniface and Paul Onuachu, while Ibrahim Olawoyin and Ismaila Sodiq followed on the hour mark.

Yet the Cheetahs remained composed in defence and stood firm against everything the Super Eagles could throw at them, ultimately seeing out a famous triumph.

The closest Nigeria came was a header from Onuachu which hit the crossbar in added time, as the heavyweights suffered a major blow to their hopes of reaching the 2026 World Cup.

Benin (2) 2 (J. Dossou 37’, S. Mounie 45+3’)

Nigeria (1) 1 (R. Onyedika 28’)

Benin: M. Dandjinou, S. D’Almeida, D. Dodo, J. Dossou (A. Tosin 44’), C. Hountondji, H. Imourane, D. Kiki, A. Moumini, S. Mounie, J. Olaitan (M. Ahlinvi 87’), M. Tijani

Nigeria: S. Nwabali, S. Ajayi, C. Bassey, S. Chukwueze (I. Olawoyin 60’), B. Tanimu, A. Iwobi (P. Onuachu 51’), A. Lookman, T. Moffi (V. Boniface 51’), W. Ndidi (A. Yusuf 79’), R. Onyedika, B. Osayi-Samuel (I. Sodiq 60’)

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