Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Steve Mounie hat-trick sends Benin to 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on a high

The Huddersfield Town striker more than doubled his tally of goals in 2018/19 as fellow Afcon finalists Mauritania go down 3-1 in Marrakech warm-up

Steve Mounie, left, in action for Huddersfield Town against Liverpool on April 26 during the 2018/19 Premier League season. Reuters
Steve Mounie, left, in action for Huddersfield Town against Liverpool on April 26 during the 2018/19 Premier League season. Reuters

Huddersfield Town striker Steve Mounie took home the match ball as a well-taken hat-trick against Mauritania completed Benin's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations preparations.

Mounie, who managed only two Premier League goals in 2018/19 as Huddersfield were relegated with several games to spare, scored in the 38th, 66th and 75th minutes in the warm-up match to set up a 3-1 victory in Marrakech.

Manager Michel Dussuyer was quick to downplay expectations for the West Africans when the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) gets under way in Egypt on Friday, given Benin's poor record at the tournament.

Benin have been to three previous finals, in 2004, 2008 and 2010, but lost eight of their nine group matches.

The other they drew 2-2 with Mozambique in Angola nine years ago.

"Step number one is to win a match. Benin has never achieved this before in the finals," Dussuyer told reporters.

"Step number two is to qualify to the round of 16, and goal number three is to come home as late as possible."

Benin have been drawn in Group F alongside Ghana, title holders Cameroon and fellow outsiders Guinea Bissau. They begin their campaign next Tuesday against Ghana in Ismailia.

"It’s exciting to confront big nations like that. It is also exciting to participate in the finals of the African Cup of Nations. So there is no apprehension,” Dussuyer added.

“There’s just the desire to have good matches against these teams, to create problems for them and to have positive results that would allow us to achieve the goals. That will come from the work we have done and also our state of mind.

“We know we do not have the strength of Cameroon or Ghana but we know are able to compete with big teams," he said.

Updated: June 19, 2019 03:11 PM

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