Benin are still awaiting their maiden finals place after missing out in five previous qualifying campaigns, but they came closest to making their breakthrough last time around. The Squirrels finished second behind Ghana in Group D and matched the section winners head to head, with both teams sealing 1-0 home triumphs. Effective on home soil, where they won twice and drew once, Benin’s dreams of reaching South Africa 2010 were sunk by their difficulties on their travels.
The current crop
Despite that disappointment, the Squirrels have made sure to build on the experience. Progress continues for the small but ambitious West African nation, who soon hope to be competing on an equal footing with the continent’s traditional powers.
The key players
No one is more crucial to the side than talisman Stephane Sessegnon, the explosive midfielder able to bring experience of both Ligue 1 and the Premier League to the table. Benin are likewise served well by forward Razak Omotoyossi, who turned plenty of heads during the 2005 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Coach: Manuel Amoros
Best performance in a FIFA competition: FIFA U-20 World Cup Netherlands 2005 (Group stages)
Former stars: Jimmy Adjovi-Boco, Oumar Tchomogo, Alain Gaspoz