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The fortunes of Benin football have skyrocketed in the past five years and they are wallowing in a new-found respect from sides across the continent.
The Squirrels qualified for their first-ever major finals when they won a place at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia and then repeated the feat with a place at the 2008 finals in Ghana.
Although they did not win a match at either event, they ran Nigeria close on two occasions and increased their reputation as a tricky side to beat.
The proliferation of players abroad has given the side greater experience and they are well coached by Frenchman Michel Dussuyer, who was once at the helm of Guinea and also an assistant to compatriot Henri Michel at Cote dIvoire.
Striker Stéphane Sessegnon from Paris St Germain is a key man in the side, as is Nigerian-born defender Damien Chrysostome of Metz and another player born in Nigeria, forward Razak Omotoyossi, who plays for Saudi Arabia side Al-Nassr.
With a population of just over 6-million, it is always going to difficult for Benin to have the depth in their squad to become giants of the African game, but they will take heart from the performance of their Under-20 side in reaching the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in the Netherlands, where they were pipped to a place in the second round on goals scored by Japan.
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