Senegal vs Benin: Cisse daring to dream of first AFCON triumph

Senegal has not previously won the Africa Cup of Nations, but Aliou Cisse is daring to dream ahead of his side's quarterfinal with Benin.

Senegal boss Aliou Cisse   -  Getty Images

Aliou Cisse urged Senegal to seize the initiative and end the nation's long wait for an Africa Cup of Nations title.

The Lions of Teranga, who have never previously won the continental competition, take on Benin in Cairo on Wednesday with a place in the semifinals on the line.

This year's tournament is wide open following the shock exits of a much-fancied Morocco, host Egypt and defending champion Cameroon in the first knockout round.

And after overcoming Uganda in the last 16 thanks to Sadio Mane's 15th-minute goal, Cisse is eager for the 2002 runners-up to prolong its run and make history.

"It's true that Cameroon are not here, the big favourites are no longer here today," he told reporters. "Of course, that gives us ideas and it gives us even more confidence to say yes, maybe this year will be the one.

READ | Nigeria vs South Africa: Rohr claims Bafana Bafana are AFCON favourites

"But like I said, that's just hope, and it won't be enough. We'll have to work very hard, we'll have to be serious, and that is what we're doing."

Benin were responsible for one of the giant killings in the last round as they beat Morocco, a side 41 places above them in the latest FIFA rankings, on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

The Squirrels drew all three of their group matches prior to knocking out Morocco but boss Michel Dussuyer insisted their run to the last eight has not been a fluke.

"Our presence at this stage is not out of luck. We have worked hard and I believe in my players," Dussuyer said.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal - Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane struck the winner in the previous match against Uganda.   -  Getty Images

 

The Liverpool forward has registered Senegal's last three goals and he joint-leads the AFCON scoring charts, level with Adam Ounas, Cedric Bakambu and Odion Ighalo. However, he has missed two of his three penalties in Egypt.

Benin - Cebio Soukou

Cebio Soukou (R) of Benin fends off Achraf Hakimi (L) of Morocco during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 match.   -  Getty Images

 

Benin has scored three times in its four matches and Hansa Rostock midfielder Soukou has delivered two assists, including the opener for Moise Adilehou in the last round.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first encounter between Senegal and Benin in the Africa Cup of Nations. 
- Senegal has progressed from two of its previous seven quarterfinals, while Benin is competing at this stage for the first time.
- Benin is the team that has played the most Africa Cup of Nations games without winning (13 - D5 L8).