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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Benin take on the world
By Tope Agboola
BBC Sport, Holland

Benin's under-20 team
Benin's under-20 squad are making their debut on the World stage

Benin's under-20 side are aware of how demanding their debut at the World Youth Championship will be when they start their campaign in Holland on Friday.

Africa's other representatives at the event will be Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria who all qualified from the African Youth Championship held in Benin in January.

The Junior Squirrels are the first side from Benin to appear on the world stage.

The senior side's greatest achievement so far was reaching the African Cup of Nations finals for the first time in 2004 in Tunisia.

Benin hosted the African Youth Championship in January.

The tournament was also the contintent's qualifying tournament for the World Youth Championship.

The West Africans will be hoping that the experience gained by Jocelin Ahueya, Romuald Boco and Abou Maiga with the senior side at the Nations Cup benefit them.

Benin are in Group A alongside hosts Holland, Japan and their first opponents Australia.

"We may be a lowly side but we're not push-overs and we are aware of the enormous task ahead of us," Benin coach Serge Deveze said.

Benin will play their opening game in memory of goalkeeper Youssoufou Samiou who was murdered after a 3-0 loss to Nigeria during the African Youth Championship.

"No one knows at this stage whether it was to punish him for conceding three goals," Deveze said.

"We will never know. Little is clear so far.

"It was an amazing shock to them (players). Now, they continue to play for him."

Moments before the opening match in the 24-team tournament, Fifa President Sepp Blatter will stand with the sellout crowd at the Kerkrade stadium for a minute of silence for the 18-year old.

Nigeria with the African Youth cup
Nigeria won the African Youth Championship in Benin

Egypt should in theory have the greatest team spirit as they have seven players from the Ahly club, who won the domestic title this year.

The young Pharaohs are at their fifth championship having been at the 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2003 events.

The Egyptians' best ever result was a third place at the 2001 edition in Argentina.

Their first game in Group D is with Germany and then they will face Argentina and the USA.

Morocco were at the first ever World Youth Championship in Tunisia in 1977 but they failed cover themselves in glory, suffering three straight defeats.

Their second qualification was for Malaysia in 1987 where they reached the quarter-finals.

And they will be hoping to go even further this time when they take on 2003 runners-up Spain in their opening Group C game as well as Chile and Honduras.

The other African side in Holland is Nigeria who were the runners-up in 1989 losing to Portugal in the final.

The Flying Eagles also finished third at their second appearance in the USSR in 1985 and it is one of those bronze medallists, Samson Siasia, who is coaching the current under-20 side.

"I fondly remember that experience and the painful way we lost to Brazil [2-0 in the semi-finals] and now we are back again, I hope things will change this time" Siasia said.

"I'm looking forward to this competition and an opportunity to play Brazil again but this time I'll be doing it from the side line."

As well as Brazil the Flying Eagles will play Switzerland and South Korea in Group F.


SEE ALSO
Nigeria win Youth Cup
29 Jan 05 |  African
Siasia unhappy with preparations
30 Mar 05 |  African
World Youth Championship
09 Jun 05 |  African
African Youth Championship
16 Jul 04 |  African


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