HomeNigeria National Teams

2021 AFCON Qualifier: Super Eagles May Fail To Fly Against Benin If…

2021 AFCON Qualifier: Super Eagles May Fail To Fly Against Benin If…

With just three weeks to the big clash between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Squirrels of Benin in a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Porto-Novo on March 27, there are growing fears that the team may fail to fly due to certain circumstances.

Nigeria are currently top of Group L on 8 points while Benin sit second on 7 points, with the big game set to decide the fate of the two neighboring teams.

On paper, the three-time AFCON champions look likely to pick the maximum points based on the array of players at their disposal. However, football is not mathematics any longer considering the fact that the game will be decided on the field of play.

The last time both teams clashed, Nigeria had to come back from a goal down to claim a 2-1 victory over the Squirrels of Benin. A meeting between them has always been a tough encounter that often demands a moment of genius to win the game.

Interestingly, Super Eagles’ last two games in the qualifying series have not been worthwhile because the team failed to protect a 4 goal lead to draw 4-4 against Sierra Leone at the  Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City. The reverse fixture also ended in a draw as the star-studded Nigerian team failed to shine against a Lone Star team.

With qualification yet to be ascertained, Nigeria may flatter against a Beninous side also blessed with some foreign players. Benin is eager to avenge the defeat against the Super Eagles and also boost their hopes of securing a spot in next year’s tournament in Cameroon. A win for Benin will see them overtake Nigeria and qualify for Cameroon 2022 with a game to spare.

Former Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie and Aston Villa star Rudy Gestede, who currently plies his trade with Stade Brest and Melbourne, while Arminia Bielefeld’s Cebio Soukou are some of the key stars in the squad.

One key factor that may count against the Super Eagles is the plan by the Nigeria Football Federation to travel by boat to face Benin when the team can basically take a flight down to neighbouring country. It is one of the big risks NFF is trying to take and it could boomerang.

Again, there is a big risk traveling by boat considering the nature of insecurity in West Africa. Recall that prior to the 2010 AFCON showpiece, the Togolese national team pulled out of the African Nations Cup after at least two people were killed in a rebel ambush on its squad’s convoy, despite Angola’s efforts to allay security concerns ahead of kick-off.

The Amaju Pinnick-led NFF should have learnt from this lesson and travel the team by flight to avoid any regrettable stories.

More so, fatigue may be another issue the team may encounter and Benin could capitalize on it if the NFF decides to go ahead with their plan to travel by boat. Most of Nigeria’s foreign-based players are not used to travelling by boat and it is a great concern if they decide to ignore the warning call.

By and large, the Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles team possesses what it takes to beat the Squirrels of Benin in Porto-Novo, however, if NFF opts to travel the team by boat, then Nigerians should prepare for the worst.


By Augustine Akhilomen

Copyright © 2021 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.



  • KangA 2 years ago

    It is absolutely unwelcome to go ahead with the decision to travel by boat to Benin. I think it was Oga Rohr who threw this flyer and it was quickly appropriated and is being amplified at the moment. The NFF is now focusing on effecting this atavistic mode of transport, sacrificing all strategies that should be implemented to enable the boys excel in Benin. Traveling by boat is now our number one strategy to win the game. Oga Pinnick went to town extolling the virtues of boat travel. Let me believe this is a mind game.

    Do we still lack a team psychologist? What have they to say about anxiety inhibiting performance? If some members of the team who are averse to boat travel are forced to undertake it, the obvious thing is that their level of anxiety escalates tremendously. Flee and Flight hormones are thrown into their circulation, rendering them effectively useless. Is that what NFF wants?

    Come to think of it, what will NFF gain by forcing the boys to travel by boat? Is it a lack of funds? Save a few kobo? If so let’s launch GoFundMe without waste of time.

    My heart skipped a bit when I analyzed the scenarios mentioned in the article. If Benin wins it might mean the end of the road for the SE. And surely some people will have to take up the job of ferry conductors on a permanent basis.

    • Olalekan 2 years ago

      The article lacks any kind of merit!
      Every player in Europe has traveled by Train for matches at one point or another, some even do night Trains.
      If the Team takes off through Lagos, port Novo is not far, plus a cruise ship travel is more expensive than a 25minutes chartered plane and also more luxurious than a plane.

      • Idah Emmanuel Idah 2 years ago

        But they are no cruise ships in Nigeria. The best bet here, I think is better to travel by chattered flight

  • pompei 2 years ago

    Apart from the ever present dangers that lurk in the insecure waterways between Nigeria and Benin, what if the boat capsizes? God forbid, what if the boat sinks, and we lose a whole generation of players, like Zambia did in the plane crash in the 1990s? Why tempt fate?
    If I was an invited player, I definitely would not risk my life in this way. If I am banned for life from the SE, so be it! I will focus on my club career, and retire in peace when I’m done.
    I’m still hoping this is an April fool joke released too early. It can’t be anything but a joke. The NFF are notoriously consistent in the SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT business. They have grabbed a huge shot gun this time around, and are poised to pull the trigger!
    Have the boys fly directly to Benin! If sanity does not prevail, then I urge the boys to stay away from this qualifier. No need to come and risk your life in a senseless manner like this. I am so gutted that the NFF continue to be the stumbling block that continues to pull our football down, with their outrageous administrative and planning deficiencies! If we had good administrators, by now we should have achieved some major milestones in football. We should have a world class league. A multitude of world class football pitches. We should be in the running to host a world cup in the near future, like SA did in 2010. We likely should have gotten to a world cup semifinal by now. The 1994 set would perhaps have gotten to the final, if not for the unpaid bonuses brouhaha that dogged the team before the match against Italy. We should have more Afcon trophies in our kitty. But shenanigans in the NFF boardroom invariably spill over onto the pitch.
    And now, we are about to sink to a new, comic, horrendous low – traveling by boat to Benin to play a crucial qualifer! I am dumbfounded!
    If the NFF officials want to travel by boat to Benin, please go ahead. By all means, do that. But have the players fly directly to Benin for the game. If they arrive early, they can have enough time to train and prepare properly for the game. In this scenario, we will likely beat Benin, or obtain a draw at worst. But with the travel by boat craziness, we court disaster. Loss of the match is the least of my worries.

    • Unfortunately Pompei, the boat matter is causing nothing but distraction. Distraction is the last thing the Super Eagles players and the coaching crew headed by Gernot Rohr need at the moment.

      Unconfirmed feelers from Benin Republic suggest that the Squirrels are fully focused on this encounter. They also want that accolade of “qualifying for the tournament with a game to spare”. To achieve that is one thing; to achieve it at the expense of the illustrious Super Eagles of Nigeria is quite another.

      Sometimes people confuse me when I express views. Now, travelling by “sea” might not altogether be a as weird as it sounds. But, suggesting it at such a time ahead of such a crucial encounter will generate “controversy”. Controversy then potentially distracts and this can lead to an undesirable outcome.

      Whatever the “merits” of travelling by sea might engender, this is just the most inappropriate time to put forward such a suggestion.

      Already, playing the match against Lesotho in Lagos has generated controversy, now going to Benin Republic by boat (or I would rather say by “sea” to add an air of respectability to the rather head-sratching idea) is raising temperatures further.

      If we fans are concerned with these proposals, how do you think Gernot Rohr and his boys would be feeling?

      Can’t this NFF develop proposals and put forward ideas that will not court controversy?

      I wonder!

  • Hi Olalekan,

    I wholeheartedly see where you are coming from.

    The only point I would like to add is that train travel in Europe is fully developed with a track record of safety, reliability and mass-use.

    I don’t think ferry travel between Nigeria and Benin Republic holds such profile.

    Maybe it does, if so I stand corrected. But I don’t think this is the right time for the NFF to explore such a possibility.

    I said it before on this platform : qualification for the 2021 Afcon is not in the bag. Contrary to what the Press often say, we need more than 1 point to secure qualification if Sierra Leone manage to somehow amass 6 points from their remaining matches.

    This is not the time for the NFF to introduce novel travelling concepts.

    This is the time for them to listen to Gernot Rohr and provide him with everything he says he would need to secure all 3 points away to Benin Republic.

    NFF’s approach to recent Super Eagles outings is not helping matters at all.

    It is easy to blame Gernot Rohr (I too have criticized him on several occasions) but is the NFF providing conducive atmosphere for him to get the job done?

  • This is exactly what they were looking for…. We can now see clearly why they were pushing this man to the wall.

    They wanted him to succum to whatever thing they decide both in team selection and other logistics.

    But the big question is; are they doing Rohr(a foreigner) or their making a bad repute of themselves?

    Is it a foreigner that would face the shame or nigerians(including them)?

    We all know the insecurity level of nigeria, then why are we tempting the satan?

    Let’s do things the right way and stop all this primitive life.

    If camping in nigeria is a problem, then look for a camping ground in europe for this boys such that once they finish their training they all can take flight and move to BENIN REP. ASAP.



    We’re tired of all these dramas


  • Ako AMADI 2 years ago

    Complete Sports often writes fallacies to galvanize public interest and make money This sports tabloid is rapidly losing respect. Who told them that overseas players are not osed to boat travel? How can a 2 hourjpurney in a yacht cause fatigue?

  • King S 2 years ago

    2 hours on water?? Where a 25mims flight is more appropriate. Even the match at Sierra Leone, it was 30mins on water.

    I smell a rat.

    When Benin came to play in Nigeria, did they travel by sea? I doubt they did. I stand to be corrected thoug.

  • Ayphillydegreat 2 years ago

    There’s nothing wrong in traveling by boat or cruse ship IMHO. We’re talking about cruise ships here. Some of us have taken cruise ships around the Caribbean ocean and the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and I can’t complain about how fun it is. When I was a kid I was in a cruise boat to Porto Novo for a school extension back then and I’m still nostalgic about that trip up till this moment. If taken a cruise boat from Lagos to Porto Novo was safe in the early 90s I don’t see anything wrong with it in 2021. Let the boys focus on the assignment at hand. It doesn’t make any difference whether they travel by sea or by air. As long as they’re able to get to Porto Novo comfortably. 

    • Lloyd 2 years ago

      @AYphilly, the problem is Nigeria nor get Cruise ship… Loll

  • Honestly 2 years ago

    But why by boat when West Africa water ways are infested with pirates, insurgents,Islamic militants and other unforeseen dangerous circumstances. What’s going on here? Who in their right mind came up with these ridiculous idea. What’s the matter with us? Who did this to Nigeria?

  • Honestly 2 years ago

    But why by boat when West Africa water ways are infested with pirates, insurgents, Islamic militants and other unforeseen dangerous circumstances. What’s going on here? Who in their right mind came up with these ridiculous ideas. What’s the matter with us? Who did this to Nigeria?

  • Collins id 2 years ago

    Maybe they should use a hanging glider or hydrogen balloon, sofa make dem reach there. They must not lose or draw in Benin, if they fail to win this game, it will be a big mess up to the team and fans confidence even if they will still qualify by beating Lesotho, it will damage the hope for wcup qualification or afcon trophy. A lost in Benin will definitely cost Rohr his job and will not be allowed to take the team to afcon and wcup qualification. Therefor I will advise rohr and his colleagues to simply go to Benin and win even if na 1 0 We go manage am.

  • Dr. Drey 2 years ago

    A former official of the Benin Football Federation has warned against the Super Eagles embarking on a “risky” boat trip to Porto Novo for an AFCON qualifier later this month, suggesting that a bus ride through the border town of Idiroko would be a far better option.

    Several Super Eagles star have already expressed concerns over the boat trip, but top officials have insisted it is the most convenient way to get to Porto-Novo.

    The Benin official told SCORENigeria: “I have been involved in logistics for the federation in Benin and yes the road through Seme is not good now, but it will be too risky to come by boat to Benin.

    “Your players are all professionals and I don’t think their foreign clubs will be happy for them to travel by boat.”

    He suggested that the Eagles travel to Benin on their team bus through the border town of Idiroko instead.

    “They could spend a night at the Gateway Hotel in Abeokuta and from there go through Idiroko and into Benin,” he proposed.

    “The road is good, there isn’t much traffic and the trip will be about three hours using their big team bus.”

    The Benin Insider added a further warning: “And when in Benin, they should only use their own bus.

    “The bus Benin federation will give them for the team they should give it to the journalists from Nigeria who will cover the match.”

    The Super Eagles take on Benin in a 2021 AFCON qualifier in Porto-Novo on March 27.

    They are expected to travel to Benin on March 25.

    Nigeria lead the qualifying group with eight points from four matches, Benin are a point behind with Sierra Leone third on three points.

    The top two teams will advance to the AFCON in Cameroon next year.
    He who has ears let them hear.

    This canoe travel idea for the Senior National Team just doesnt make 1 bit of sense…..even if it were to be a cruise. Until qualification is secured, i dont think its a good idea to get distracted and feel relaxed. We felt relaxed up to the point of even gatecrashing SE trainings with all sorts of politicians coming to show dazzling skills with pot bellies. As devil go punish us we raced to a 4-0 lead within 30mins and thought it was bed time and S/L made us pay dearly.

    Down with this boat travel idea. If NFF is trying to save costs of flying, then better still…..all the players should just touch down in Aeroport de Porto Novo straight from Europe instead of first coming to Nigeria. By doing that NFF will even save cost of COVID testing for the boys when coming in and when going for the match. A 4-5 star hotel would not be costlier in Porto Novo than it is in Lagos. Logistics will not be costlier than in Lagos. Getting a place to train will not be a hassle. It is far easier operationally effective for the NFF if the team assembles straight in Benin republic. Moreover, if that pitch the Flying Eagles played on in the recently concluded WAFU U20 championship is the same pitch we will be playing on, then we’ve got a real battle on our hands. If freetown was a millet far….that porto novo pitch looks more like a grazing ranch. Why these organizational and management basics seem like rocket science to our administrators is quite surprising. This match is also do or die for Benin…they will want to use everything they have to their advantage….including voodoo. The NFF should get serious.

  • Greenturf 2 years ago

    Rightly said @Dr Drey.Its best to avoid any unnecessary risks because safety first.The nff should first and foremost protect it’s subject from any unlikely to cause danger,or risks of any kind.
    I wouldn’t be a part of that boat trip if I were a super eagles player.I wouldn’t mind making my own private travel arrangements.
    Creating a safe environment is very important and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
    I am hoping for a change in the travel plans.A better and safer arrangement.
    Wishing the super eagles a successful winter international games.

  • If Rohr accepts to travel by boat in Africa with all our foreign players, it means he doesn’t know what he is doing. Traveling by boat in Europe is totally different from Africa. The NFF and the coach should be held responsible if something happens. I wonder why they cannot travel by road. Madness!

  • I wont be surprised if players start withdrawing from the game because of this issue.

  • Mr Hush 2 years ago

    Sometimes I wonder if the NFF have any marketing department cause the only reason I feel they are bringing up this ludicrous idea of travelling by boat to Benin is to save cost.

    Why don’t the boys travel directly from their base to Benin.
    And then after the game, we fly with a chartered flight back to Lagos for the second game. Benin is next door. That should be cheaper and more reasonable.
    Where are the sponsors! Pinnick shouldn’t use all the funds for his selfish ambition of heading to Fifa. He should get his head out of that ……and focus. Priorities.all about Priorities and timing…

  • NFF suppose to use our underage teams for this kind of movie na….

    NFF….bia…. Biko; this is africa na…. we shouldn’t act this type of drama bikonu….

    Is it that we don’t have money in our treasury anymore?

    If money can be pump into fighting insuggencies (with no result coming out), can’t our fed.government pump enough money into our sport which gives us joy?

    I pray nothing happen to our boys else the whole nigerian fans would hold PINNICK and his bathalion responssible.

    I don finish my own….


  • Edoman 2 years ago

    Lets hope Nigeria don’t loose this match. If super eagle looses, they will automatically be dabbed as super chickens once again. Some of the invited players may not even show up. NFF is not serious.

    • Omo9ja 2 years ago

      Let’s assume NFF are not serious how about the coach they are pushing around like Lagos Danfo buses?

      Nigerians needed a coach in charge of the national teams that can say it to NFF face that I have my own plans as well and this is how I wanted it to be done but can Oga Rohr do that? And we are expecting positive results ba? It’s not done that way my lovely friend.

      The coach is clueless, he can’t take action on his own and you are expecting NFF to do something right Edoman?

      Coach Westerhof succeeded because he stood on his plans and he didn’t allow NFF to pushed him around like they are doing now.

      Anything can happen. We can win this match, we can play draw in the encounter and even lose it but we have to stay positive as Nigerians.

      NFF always having their own faults likewise Oga Rohr. Let’s put the blame on both parties my Edoman. Happy weekend my lovely friend.

      God bless Nigeria!!!

  • Progress okpako 2 years ago

    Please and please u people should stop all these wrong mindsets about taking sea,river, ocean or air.Those kids wiil get to Benin save and sound. Nothing is going to happened to them whether they pass through air or water. Please you people should stop inculcating fear in people. Nothing will happened, I said nothing will happened. Let us pray for victory rather thinking of negative things. I saw supper eagles victorious in Jesus name Amen