Benin held by 10-man Rwanda despite new coach, ‘fearsome’ nickname
Benin introduced a new coach and a ‘fearsome‘ nickname against Rwanda on Wednesday, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw as matchday three of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying began.
Gilbert Mugisha gave the visiting Rwandan Wasps an early lead in Cotonou. After losing teen Hakim Sahabo to a red card, the visitors conceded a late equaliser when substitute Steve Mounie struck.
The result suited neither team as Senegal have six points and Mozambique four from two matches in Group L, and Rwanda two and Benin one having played an additional match.
Gernot Rohr, a 69-year-old German who coached Gabon, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, succeeded local Moussa Latoundji last week.
Charged with turning around the fortunes of a team beaten by Senegal and Mozambique last June, Rohr cut a colourful figure in a green cap, red top, black pants and gleaming white shoes.
He will have been disappointed that Benin, who had a numerical advantage for 35 minutes, could not convert their second-half dominance into a victory.
Nicknames are revered in African football and after many years of debate, Benin recently changed theirs from Squirrels to Cheetahs, believing the new name would strike fear into rivals.
Said a Beninese football spokesman.
Elsewhere, Sao Tome e Principe banished memories of a 10-goal Group A drubbing from Nigeria last year by drawing 2-2 with Sierra Leone in the Moroccan coastal city of Agadir.
Argentina-based Luis Leal, the 35-year-old star of Sao Tome, put the Portuguese-speaking island nation ahead in each half only for Mustapha Bundu and Abu Komeh to notch equalisers.
The draw was a blow to the Leone Stars as they trail second-placed Guinea-Bissau by two points having played an extra match.
The game was played in southern Morocco because Sierra Leone do not have an international-standard stadium.
Leaders Nigeria host Guinea-Bissau, who are seeking a fourth straight appearance at the finals, in Abuja on Friday.