At the end of the group phase which ended on February 27, the National U20 Team of Senegal now knows its opponent for the quarterfinals.
Assured already to qualify for the quarterfinals of the 2023 TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations as the first of their group after the second day, the Young Teranga Lions had the luxury to eliminate Egypt on Saturday. The teammates of Pape Demba Diop had dominated the Pharaohs, hosts of the competition (4-0), thanks to a resounding hat-trick of the attacking midfielder from Zulte-Waregem.
In the quarterfinals, Senegal will meet the third of Group C. And this opponent is none other than Benin. Second before the last day, the Cheetahs were beaten by Gambia (0-1) and let Tunisia, winner of Zambia (2-1), to pass them.
If the Young Teranga Lions avoided the Carthage Eagles, there is no doubt that this game against Benin, scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Cairo International Stadium (14:00 GMT), will be very difficult. Samba Diallo and his partners will have to be wary. In case of qualification for the semi-finals of this CAN U20, Senegal will face the winner of the quarterfinals Congo – Tunisia.
This will be the last step for the top four of the competition qualifying for the 2023 World Cup.
Benin came out of the group stage in extremis, but they believe in their chances against Senegal this Thursday, just like their coach.
Without shining, with a defeat in the last game (1-0) in the group stages against Gambia, Benin validated its ticket for the quarterfinals of the CAN U20 thanks to a place of best third.
However, the Cheetahs do not want to stop there.
The teammates of Samidou Bawa will be the future opponents of the Young Teranga Lions of Senegal. So, to overcome this Senegalese team, which the coach thinks is possible, it will be necessary to improve especially in attack. The Beninese have scored only one goal in three games.
“We have three days to prepare for the game against Senegal. Even if it is a team that has won three games, it is another stage of the tournament. We will play for victory. We can beat Senegal if we solve our finishing problem,” said Mathias Deguenon in a press conference.
But it seems he forgot to point out that a brilliant attack might not be enough for his young players to hope to beat Senegal. Best defence of the tournament with zero goals conceded, the Young Teranga Lions also shone on the offensive side, as they also have the best attack (8 goals scored).
Kick-off time is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Cairo International Stadium (14:00 GMT (3pm Cameroon time).
Teranga Lions possible starting lineup – Landing Badji (GK); Amidou, Ndiaye, Sano, Basse; Samba Diallo, Mamadou Camara, Lamine Camara, Samba Diallo; Souleymane, Pape Demba
Cheetahs possible starting lineup – Rahman Karim (GK); Gouakinnou, Winsavi, Ouorou Tamimou, Sankamao; Dokou Dodji, Hassane; Aloko, Alitonou, Samadou; Samidou Bawa
Senegal Teranga Lions vs Benin Cheetahs
Pape Demba Diop is current top scorer of the competition with four goals. His teammates will undoubtedly need all his talent to lift Senegal into the last four. A qualification for the semi-finals of this CAN U20 will open the way to the next World Cup for the Young Teranga Lions. They’ve been runners-up for three consecutive years (2015, 2017 and 2019). In 2017 and 2019, they topped Group B. in 2019, they qualified for the semi-finals with maximum points and then beat South Africa to get to the finals. Can history itself for the Teranga Lions?
In 2005, Benin qualified for the knockout stages with 4 points and faced off against Egypt in the semis losing on penalties after a one-all tie. Having qualified for the quarter-finals as one of the best-placed 3rd teams in this edition, can Benin muster a masterclass performance to cause an upset against the tournament favourites?
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