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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 18:12 GMT
Benin respond in style
By Michael oti Adjei
BBC Sport, Cotonou

Pascal Hountonto of Benin
Pascal Hountonto's Benin go second in Group A

African Youth Championship hosts Benin thumped the Ivory Coast 4-1 in Cotonou on Tuesday in their first Group A game since the death of goalkeeper Youssoufou Samiou.

Samiou died on Monday after being attacked by unknown assailants near the side's team hotel in Cotonou on Sunday.

Before a good crowd that had come out partly in honour of the late goalkeeper, Benin put up the championship's best show so far with an emphatic win that takes them second in Group A behind leaders Nigeria.

"The players came out well today because they knew there was a lot at stake for Benin," the team's French coach Serge Devez said.

"They knew a loss would have signalled the end of their participation in the competition so unlike the game against Nigeria, they played according to instructions.

"I hope now that we can beat Mali and qualify for the semi-finals."

The Young Squirrels wore black armbands as a sign of respect to Samiou, but it was the manner in which they outplayed and outscored the Ivorians that may now linger in the minds of the locals.

The players came out well today because they knew there was a lot at stake for Benin
Benin coach Serge Devez

Cheered on by the sizeable Friendship Stadium crowd, Benin were quick off the blocks but had to wait until the 38th minute before taking the lead.

Coffi Agbesi latched onto captain Boco Ranould's ball from midfield before slotting in a left-footed shot beyond Ivorian goalkeeper Vincent Angban.

Gariga Maiga made it two for the hosts after the break with a brilliant individual goal.

The Ivorians failed to deal properly with a long ball and when Maiga was gifted possession, he turned on the edge of the six-yard box and blasted home to send the stadium into raptures.

The noise level only rose three minutes later when Chitous Charaf scored a third for the Juniour Squirrels with a header from Coffi Agbessi's left-wing cross.

Ten minutes from time, Maiga scored a third from the penalty spot after Razak Omotoyossi went down under Charles Touha's challenge.

Benin's display was in contrast to their opening day defeat against Nigeria, when they had performed abysmally.

Not even Zahiri Yedi's late consolation for the Ivory Coast could dampen the jubilant mood in the Friendhsip Stadium.

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