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Moroccans to officiate at 2021 AFCON Qualifier between Nigeria and Benin

CAF has appointed Moroccan officials to officiate at Saturday’s crucial 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match between Nigeria and Benin Republic.

NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, stated on Friday that 42-year-old Rédouane Jiyed, an international referee since 2009 and currently one of the highest-rated referees in Africa would be the centre referee.

“He will be assisted by Lahsen Azgaou (Assistant Referee 1), Mostafa Akarkad (Assistant Referee 2) and Samir Guezzaz (fourth official) – all Moroccans.

“The Match Commissioner is Yameogo David and Ghanaian Julius Ben Emunah is the Security Officer,’’ he added.

The statement also said that Nigeria’s contingent hit the tiny West African nation with much buzz, glitz and glitter on Friday, arriving at the Porto Novo Port in half a dozen boats across the waterways from Lekki, Lagos.

“Olawale Awe, Nigeria’s ambassador to Benin Republic, led mission staff to await the delegation and then accompanied the team and officials to Cotonou, where the group is ensconced at the Golden Tulip Hotel.

“The Super Eagles will ride by bus to Porto Novo on Saturday morning and return to the Golden Tulip after their clash with the Squirrels at the Stade Charles de Gaulle,’’ it said.

Three-time champions, Nigeria could be sure of a 19th appearance at African football’s flagship tournament if Sierra Leone and Lesotho are locked in a stalemate in their early game in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital and largest city on Saturday.

The Super Eagles are insisting on focusing on their own game and result rather than wait for help from one bumpy pitch in southern Africa.

The Squirrels, who sensationally reached the quarter-finals of the last edition of AFCON in Egypt two years ago before losing to Tunisia (losers to Nigeria in the third-place match), had their last training session at the Stade Charles de Gaulle on Thursday.

Coach Michel Dussuyer told reporters after the team’s training that his boys were ready to calmly collect the three points from better-fancied Nigeria.

Dussuyer, 61, a former French professional footballer and well-travelled coach, is confident his Squirrels can sneak past the Super Eagles to top of the pool ahead of the last round of matches in a few days.

He is banking on the power-play upfront of the hulking Michael Pote, the defensive competence of David Kiki, Yohan Roche, Khaled Adenon and Cedric Hountondji.

The coach would also be relying on the midfield savvy of Anaane Tidjane, Jordan Adeoti and Rodrigue Kossi and the trio of Steve Mounie, Jacques Bessan and Jerome Bonou.

Goalkeepers Saturnin Allagbe and Fabien Farnolle will contend for the number one spot. Allagbe was impressive at the AFCON in Egypt.

The statement also said that officials of the Federation Beninoise de Football (FBF) were still awaiting official letter from CAF as at Friday evening on the number of persons that could be admitted at the Stade Charles de Gaulle.

It added that as at lunchtime on Friday, they were still being told that only 200 persons could attend.

“We are hoping for a favourable opinion on our letter requesting that we be allowed to have between 1,800 and 3,000 persons at the match,” an official of the FBF was quoted as saying.

The match kicks off at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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