Africa: Cote d'Ivoire Defeat Hosts Niger in WAFU B U20 Opener, Benin Stun Togo

Cote d'Ivoire produced some brilliant performance to defeat hosts Niger 1-0 to get their 2022 WAFU B U20 Championship campaign underway in a promising fashion on Saturday.

The Baby Menas were unlucky not to salvage a draw in the opening Group A match at the Senyi Kountche Stadium in Niamey as they fluffed a late penalty.

A 52nd minute header by striker Seydou Traore sealed the victory for the more determined Ivorians who dominated large parts of the game.

Some individual brilliance by the Nigeriens gave hope to the teeming supporters in the stadium but they could not convert their chances.

Despite the late rally by the home side, led by the Ghana-based talented playmaker Amadou Djadje Oumarou, Baby Elephants were resolute at the back to protect their advantage.

In a cagey first-half, Niger were the first to threaten the opponent in the 23rd minute but the Ivorians responded nine minutes later when striker Seydou Traoré broke free leaving him alone with the goalkeeper but was flagged offside.

Ivorian defender Ibrahim Cissé's powerful header went just wide before the home side failed to take advantage of the blunder by goalkeeper allowed striker Moussa Harouna to steal the ball but failed to convert from inside the box, just before the break.

The Baby Elephants broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute when the Racing Club d'Abidjan striker Traore headed in from Abdoulaye Djire's cross from the right.

Moments later the Ivorians doubled their lead through the onrushing Abdoul Kader Kiebre but he was flagged for an offside, giving hope to the home side.

Niger had their biggest chance when Ivorian defender Bangaly Fofana brought an opponent down in the box but striker Moussa Harouna shot the resulting penalty over the bar.

Cote d'Ivoire captain Arafat Doumbia received the Man of the Match award and received his trophy from the President of WAFU Zone B Mr. Kurt Okraku.

Meanwhile in the group's other match of the day, Benin defeated ten-man Togo 1-0 to enhance their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.

A strike on the hour mark by Farid Edou at the Senyi Kountche Stadium in Niamey sealed the victory for the Baby Squirrels.

The Togolese had their player Ouzeroudine Kperedja was shown the direct red card late in the game for a dangerous tackle on an opponent.

Benin silky midfielder Zoulkaneri Seibou was named Man of the Match and he received the award from the President of the Nigerien Football Federation, Colonel Major Djibrila Hamidou.

The next round of matches in Group A will be played on Tuesday when Cote d'Ivoire take on Togo while Niger play Benin at the same venue.

The competition continues on Sunday and with just three teams in Group B, one match is scheduled to be played.

Title holders Ghana will play arch-rivals Nigeria in what promises to be an exciting encounter while Burkina Faso have a rest day.

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