Benin vs Nigeria: Squirrels who could hurt the Super Eagles

William Troost-Ekong, Steve Mounie - Nigeria vs Benin

Saturday’s meeting between Benin and Nigeria in Porto-Novo sees the top two sides in Group L do battle with qualification for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon the objective.

Nigeria lead the way with eight points, with this weekend’s opponents a single point behind and the Squirrels will look to get even after losing the reverse fixture against their West African neighbours 2-1.

Gernot Rohr’s team are a win from guaranteeing progress to the continental showpiece but Michel Dussuyer’s in-form troops stand in their way.

Which of the home side’s stars could prevent the three-time African champions from confirming their participation at Afcon?

Steve Mounie

Undoubtedly, the Stade Brestois frontman is the standout dangerman for Benin against Nigeria on Saturday.

Despite not finding the back of the net for the Squirrels so far in the qualifiers, Mounie’s aerial threat cannot be underestimated, though, and the striker’s seven goals in Ligue 1 mean the Super Eagles ought to be wary of the menace of the 26-year-old.

Underrating the forward’s threat in the air as well as his penchant for taking up smart positions in the box could damage the visitors’ chances of winning in Porto-Novo.

Jodel Dossou

Benin’s top scorer after four games has to be singled out owing to the threat he carries out wide.

Dossou scored the winner against Lesotho and Sierra Leone, winning the Squirrels four of their seven points in qualifying.

The Clermont Foot winger has netted 10 times in Ligue 2 and definitely shouldn’t be underestimated as he may hold the key to unlocking the Nigeria defence.

Saturnin Allagbe

The shot-stopper missed the reverse fixture against Nigeria but has come into the side to really good effect.

Allagbe has kept clean sheets since returning to Dussuyer’s team, with Lesotho twice failing to score in November.

Given Benin’s defence hasn’t been breached in three games, the Dijon goalkeeper will want to thwart Gernot Rohr’s team this weekend to extend that run of clean sheets to four.

Cedric Hountondji

While Allagbe’s influence in goal can’t be diminished, Hountondji’s impact at centre-back saw only two goals conceded in four games.

The Clermont defender has been immense at the heart of the defence and ought to feature as Benin chase a fourth clean sheet on the spin in the qualifiers.

Given the recent goalscoring run of Kelechi Iheanacho at Leicester City, the equally in-form central defender will relish silencing the Nigeria forward who’s expected to start along with Victor Osimhen.

Sessi D'Almeida

In central midfield, D'Almeida’s feisty nature could make the encounter less straightforward than observers believe it should.

The Valenciennes man relishes getting stuck in and breaking up play in the middle of the park and he won’t shy away from being dogged against Benin’s illustrious opponents as the Squirrels seek a shocking victory over Gernot Rohr’s team.