Benin’s U20 coach Mattias Deguenon says his team’s objective at the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Indonesia.
The coach made these comments ahead of their Group C opener against Zambia in Alexandria on Tuesday.
The Cheetahs will be hoping to replicate their 2005 performance when they beat Morocco on penalties to secure bronze on home soil.
The West Africans return to the tournament after a long absence and Deguenon feels at home in Egypt.
“We came here (Egypt) in November, we prepared against the Pharaohs,” Deguenon said.
“We are in a good hotel, the reception is good. Our goal is to finish in the last four of the tournament. We want to qualify for the World Cup.”
Benin played at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and they want a repeat appearance in this year’s competition scheduled in Indonesia.
“It would be a moral satisfaction for its young people who must show themselves to the world. We are working hard for that. We want to go step by step to achieve our goals.”
The tactician says coaching the national team is an honour and a privilege.
“It is a personal satisfaction to be in this position, to defend the country and to put young players in the best possible position to win.”
Captain Ouorou Tamimou says the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations is the platform for young players to be seen.
“Like all players, I want to make myself visible in this competition. We are in the process of building and each player will play their part. We want to qualify for the World Cup.”
The Young Chipolopolo of Zambia will be one of the returning teams to the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations and captain Dominic Kanda says they want to repeat their past exploits.
Zambia failed to qualify for the last two editions in Niger and Mauritania following their 2017 triumph on home soil.
“We will respect our opponents, no one is here by chance,” said Kanda. “As the coach said so well, we want to win and qualify for the World Cup.”
Dominic Kanda will lead the Zambian team out at the Alexandria Stadium. He takes pride from the privilege.
“Representing Zambia is the best thing that could have happened to me,” Kanda said with a broad smile on his face. “Our goal is to repeat the exploits of our past football glories.”
The COSAFA champions will be seeking to return to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but coach Chisi stressed they will need discipline and tactical awareness.
“Zambia has talents, they need to be refined. It is a pleasure to be in Egypt, the group deserves this qualification.
“We need more tactics, rigour, discipline and defensive stability. There are no other secrets, if we want to reach our objective,” concluded Chisi.
Cheetahs possible starting lineup –
Chipolopolo possible starting lineup –
Cheetahs of Benin vs Chipolopolo of Zambia prediction
The West African Zone B qualifiers for the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations were hosted by Niger with the matches played between 7–20 May 2022.
Benin earned itself a four-match unbeaten streak by beating Togo 1-0, drawing with Niger 0-0, beating Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 and dismantling Burkina Faso in extra time 2-1. In their final game, they were thrashed 3-1 by Nigeria even though they scored an 83rd minute consolation goal to make up for a nervy closing of that encounter. Their solid run to qualify for the tournament against all odds by leaving behind traditional teams Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire speaks volumes for the pedigree they possess. Coach Mattias Deguenon promises that football is played on the pitch.
The COSAFA qualifiers for the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations were hosted by Eswatini between 7–16 October 2022.
Zambia had a flawless qualifying, earning three wins on the bounce in the group stages with the full nine points and a goal difference of +6. This was achieved by thrashing Mauritius 3-0, Eswatini 2-0, and Botswana 1-0. During the knockout stages, they drew 1-1 with Angola before beating them on penalties 3-2. Their coronation as COSAFA champions was sealed with a first-half goal by Mutandwa against Mozambique, to earn them a one-nil victory.
Zambia has pedigree in this competition with a win in 2017 when they hosted, and 3 semi-final appearances in 10 tournament appearances. Coach Mbewe must now match his words with action on the field of play.
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