•Benin coach fancies upset against Nigeria

Benin Republic coach, Gernot Rohr, is banking on his inside knowledge of the Super Eagles to outwit the three-time African champions when both teams clash in the forthcoming African qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

The Squirrels are drawn in Group C alongside Nigeria, South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

And while Rohr, who coached the Eagles for over six years, admits that the Eagles are favourites to qualify for the World Cup from the group, he believes anything can happen when the qualifiers begin in November.

The Eagles have a superior head-to-head record against the Squirrels, going unbeaten in 13 competitive games — 12 wins and a draw just.

They are also unbeaten against Lesotho in four games.

Against South Africa, the Eagles have won seven of their 13 meetings, losing two, with four ending in stalemates.

For Rwanda, Jose Peseiro’s team is also unbeaten. In four games, the Eagles have recorded two wins and two draws. Zimbabwe has only one win against the Eagles as against Nigeria’s four wins and two draws in seven games.

Reacting to the draw, Rohr, in an exclusive interview with PUNCH Sports Extra, admitted that his former side were favourites to clinch the only World Cup ticket in Group C but adds that his knowledge of the Eagles can come in handy in helping his new team Benin claim an unlikely result against the Nigerians.

“Of course Nigeria are favourites in this group but you never know what can happen,” Rohr told PUNCH Sports Extra.

“Nigeria is a great team, and I know very well how they play, and they know me as well. We just need to get our tactics and attitude on the pitch right against them.

“It is a fantastic draw, a very tough group for everybody because there will be a lot of derbies.

“We have South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe in our group. We know Rwanda as well. It is a really tough group.”

The Franco-German is already envisaging the clash with his former employers.

“I will be happy to see some friends again,” he said. “Football is also to have good friends to see them sometimes. It’s a job to do for everybody and also get a little emotional. I will be happy to meet some people again.”

He added, “Our team has five U-20 players who did so well against Senegal at the U-23 level that we can try. We have a better level now. “I wish Nigeria all the best. I know the Eagles well and they know me as well, so we will see what happens when Benin faces Nigeria.”

In another interview with 24HauBenin, Rohr stated  that the group would be extremely technical and physical.

“It’s really a group of teams who know each other, making it an extremely technical and physical challenge,” Rohr added.

“South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho are geographically very close, and Nigeria and Benin are also neighbours.

“Zimbabwe has a very strong physical team and the Rwandan team is one that we know quite well. And then there is also Lesotho, a country we are familiar with because Benin has played against them.”

The 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off in November, with the first two group games scheduled to be played between November 13 and 21. The third and fourth round of matches are scheduled for June 2024.



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