Benin have announced sweeping changes to the make-up of their national team in the wake of their first round elimination at the recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola and have received an immediate boost with a jump in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
They have moved up to 65th in the latest edition, two places higher than their position in February and edging ever closer to their highest ever position attained just a few months ago. The Ecureuils reached 59th in November 2009, confirmation of their steady progress in recent years.
It was only in July 2007 that the small west African state broke through into the top 100 of the Ranking and have they continued a steady climb since. Qualification for the Cup of Nations finals, for only the third time, was symbolic of that progress and their harsh reaction to their early elimination reflects the new levels the Beninoise believe they are capable of reaching.
Benin were unlucky not to beat Mozambique in their opening group game in Benguela, squandering a two goal lead before drawing the match. They then lost to neighbours Nigeria by a single goal in a game in which they created several opportunities to claim all three points, Their elimination from the tournament was confirmed when they were beaten by eventual winners Egypt in their final group outing. It cost Michel Dussuyer his job as coach and led to the dramatic announcement of the dissolution of the national team, news of a drastic step creating headlines across the footballing world.
A new squad of young and, so far, locally-based players, many of whom are barely out of their teens, has already been unveiled as the new generation of Ecureuils. They were even presented to the Benin public at a recent press conference in Cotonou. Benin FA president Anjorin Moucharafou spoke at the function of the need to have players willing to defend the national colours. “The national team is not the property of certain players,” he said.
French-born coach Michel Sorin has taken over as national coach on a temporary basis and already played with his home-based side in the first stages of the African Nations Championship, the tournament hosted by the Confederation of African Football for players who compete in their local leagues. Benin lost 2-0 in the first leg of their tie at Niger at the start of March but still have hopes of overturning the deficit when they host the return match before the end of the month.
Sorin, who previously worked as coach of Cotonou club Requins Atlantique FC, was a player at Laval, Rennes and Brest during his career in the French league. But it has been made clear by the Benin federation that they are looking for a new long-term coach and have already held several interviews with perspective candidates.
Calculation of points for a single match
P = M x I x T x C
M: points for Match result
Teams gain 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a defeat. In a penalty shoot-out, the winning team gains 2 points and the losing team gains 1 point.
I: Importance of match
Friendly match (including small competitions): I = 1.0
FIFA World Cup™ qualifier or confederation-level qualifier: I = 2.5
Confederation-level final competition or FIFA Confederations Cup: I = 3.0
FIFA World Cup™ final competition: I = 4.0
T: strength of opposing Team
The strength of the opponents is based on the formula: 200 – the ranking position of the opponents.As an exception to this formula, the team at the top of the ranking is always assigned the value 200 and the teams ranked 150th and below are assigned a minimum value of 50. The ranking position is taken from the opponents’ ranking in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
C: strength of Confederation
When calculating matches between teams from different confederations, the mean value of the confederations to which the two competing teams belong is used. The strength of a confederation is calculated on the basis of the number of victories by that confederation at the last three FIFA World Cup™ competitions (see following page). Their values are as follows:
|Points Last Month|
|Points outside Ranking calculation|