WAFU CUP OF NATIONS
Nigeriaâ€™s home-based Super Eagles and their Benin Republic counterparts have scores to settle this evening in the semi final stage of the ongoing 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations in Ghana. The other semi final is between hosts Ghana and Niger Republic.
This is the third time both countries are meeting in barely one month. Eagles walked away with the ticket to the next African Nations Cup in Kenya at the expense of the Squirrel from Cotonou.
Now, with the ticket to the final of the WAFU Cup at stake with a mouth-watering $100,000 on the line for eventual winner of the tournament on Sunday, this eveningâ€™s semis in Cape Coast promises to be full of fireworks.
The home-based Eagles lost the first leg of that CHAN qualifier 1-0 in Cotonou after the referee ruled midfielder, Afeez Aremu, fouled a Benin striker inside the box in the dying moments of that encounter.
Nigeria fought back to beat Benin 2-0 in Kano a week later to qualify for a third straight CHAN.
Benin upsets bookmakersâ€™ calculations in Ghana to top the Group B of the WAFU Cup of Nations on six points. They appear to have another chance to take their pound of flesh from the Nigerian team on a neutral ground.
However, if the Beninnois are thinking of exacting revenge, they equally have another Nigerian in the Eagles fold who is determined to make up for the penalty ruled against him from the first leg of that CHAN qualifier in Cotonou.
Aremu told SCORENigeria in his preview of todayâ€™s game that it is his wishe to score against Benin in the WAFU Cup semi-final to make up for the penalty goal he caused which led to Nigeria losing that first.
The Akwa United star midfielder revealed that it was a traumatic time for him when Nigeria lost for the first time ever at full international level to the Benin team.
â€œI was really disturbed after the match because it was not a penalty in the first instance,â€ he argued.
â€œIt was just an undue home advantage because it was even the striker who ran into me when I was trying to make a back pass to (Ikechukwu) Ezenwa.
â€œSo, it will be great for me to score against the same team on our way to the WAFU Cup final,â€ observed Aremu wednesday.
However, the teenage defensive midfielder said he expects a tough opposition especially as Benin has added some new players to the squad that played against Nigeria last month.
â€œIt will be a tough game but we will stop them again,â€ predicted Aremu, who picked the playoff game against Sierra Leone as his best of the competition so far.
â€œWe share the same hotel with them and we can see that they have some new players including two central defenders,â€ revealed Aremu.
The defensive midfielder said that Eagles 2-0 win over hosts Ghana on Monday has boosted their confidence ahead of todayâ€™s game.
â€œBefore the match against Ghana, we created many chances but could not score which resulted in the draws against Guinea and Mali. But all that changed with our win over Ghana,â€ concludes Aremu who along with his Super Eagles teammates are not paid win bonuses but are looking forward to sharing the $100,000 tournament prize money at stake if they walk away with the title on Sunday evening.
They need to overcome the Benin obstacle to get to the final this evening.