Africa: Rohr Disappointed Not to Make Winning Debut With Benin

Franco-German coach Gernot Rohr says he was disappointed not to make a winning start to his career as the Benin national team head coach, as they came from behind to force out a 1-1 draw with Rwanda on Match Day Three of the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Rohr, formerly the coach of the Nigerian Super Eagles took charge of the Benin Squirrels last month, and this was his first competitive match in charge.

Steve Mounie stepped off the bench to grab a late equalizer for the Beninese, who were powered through by a passionate home crowd at the Stade de l'Amitié in the capital Cotonou. Gilbert Mugisha had given Rwanda a first half lead.

Benin had a one-man advantage for the last half hour of the game after Hakim Sahabo was sent off for Rwanda on the hour mark

On the balance of chances, Rohr believes his side should have won.

"We are extremely disappointed with the result., but what I liked was the behavior of the team. We had many clear chances but we did not score. We will analyze all of this on video, because I still wonder how we could not score a second goal. We ended up with seven offensive players. We are disappointed because we did not win," the tactician said.

He added that he is impressed with the input of youngsters in the team and remains confident they can get a result in the return fixture in four days' time.

Meanwhile, Rwanda's Carlos Alos Ferrer rued the red card for his side, and believes they could have won with full compliments.

"I am not happy with the result because I think if we played 11 versus 11, we would have been better and we could take the three points. When we lost one player, it was difficult for us. We knew that Benin is a very physical team when playing crosses with very good strikers and it was not easy," Rwanda's Carlos Alos Ferrer said.

He added; "But the point is good for us, we are still above Benin and we will try to do better at home. I want to congratulate the players. I am really proud of them they worked hard and did what I wanted."

Veteran forward Mounie preserved a point for the home side with a late goal. He picked a loose ball inside the box in the 82nd minute before powering a volley past keeper Fiacre Ntwari.

Rwanda had been forced to play on the backfoot especially after forward Sahabo had been sent off for a second yellow card. He had been booked inside the first two minutes for having wrong undergarments and his second yellow card was for pulling.

Just before scoring, Mounie had come close severally, once with a header that had gone wide, while another bouncing from the edge of the six yard box skipped over.

They also had another close chance in the 71st minute when Tosin Ayegun's connection at the backpost from Stephane Ssesegnon's freekick went over.

Rwanda had opened the scoring in the 13th minute through Gilbert Mugisha. The forward had scored on the second bite of the cherry after his initial effort was blocked by the keeper. Just before than in the fifth minute, skipper Meddie Kagere had come close with a shot from the right that whistled narrowly wide.

On the half hour mark, the Rwandese could have doubled the lead but Kevin Muhire's curling effort from inside the box came cracking under the post.

With the result, Rwanda remain third in Group D with two points from back to back draws while Benin picked their first point after losing their first two games.

Sierra Leone 2-2 Sao Tome and Principe

Meanwhile, just like Benin, Sierra Leone were left to rue missed chances as they twice came from behind to play to a 2-2 draw with Sao Tome and Principe in a match played at the Grand Stade Agadir in Morocco.

"It is a really disappointing result but credit to Sao Tome because they battled hard and made the game difficult for us. It is disappointing but it is not over yet. We have the return leg and after that we have two more games to go. We showed the Sierra Leonian spirit to keep fighting until the very end. We go again, regroup rest recover and focus on getting a result in the next match," skipper Steve Caulker said.

His sentiments were echoed by coach John Keister.

"This result is difficult to take in. We got ourselves to blame. We didn't start very well in the first half and we caused ourselves some problems. In the second half we didn't take the chances we had and this is the cruel side of football," said the coach.

Sao Tome were delighted with the result, with Ferreira Soares praising his teammates for their hard work. "It was a tough game and we knew were playing a tough team with ore experience than us. But, we worked hard and got a good result. Of course we would have loved to win but it was not possible. Now we focus on the next match."

Sao Tome had picked a shock lead two minutes to the break when Luis Leal connected from an Adjeil da Gloria pass.

Sierra Leone regrouped in the second half and equalized through Mustapha Bundu three minutes after the restart when he reacted quickest to a spilled ball.

But, Sao Tome re-took the lead when Leal completed his brace, running on to a through ball before dinking it over the keeper. He would have grabbed a hattrick minutes later, but his brilliant shot from range was turned behind by the keeper.

Sierra Leone however fought to get back on level terms, Abu Komeh powering home from inside the box off an Alhaji Kamara squared ball.

With back to back draws, Sierra Leone remain third in the standings with two points while Sao Tome are bottom of Group A with their first point of the qualifiers.

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