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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January 2005, 12:09 GMT
Attuquayefio praises late Beninois
By Tope Agboola
BBC Sport

Cecil Jones Attuquayefio
Samiou was very strong, very brave and full of promise for the future
Cecil Jones Attuquayefio

Benin's former coach Cecil Jones Attuquayefio has paid tribute to the country's late under-20 goalkeeper Youssoufou Samiou.

The 18-year-old died on Monday in the capital Cotonou after being attacked the previous night on a beach near the team hotel where Benin are staying for the 2005 African Youth Championships.

"He was a Muslim and a very quiet boy, but very jovial when he was with his colleagues," the Ghanaian coach told BBC Sport.

"He often tried out his English with me."

Attuquayefio, who led Ghana's Hearts of Oak to victory in the maiden Confederation Cup earlier this month, said that Samiou had the potential to be Benin's national goalkeeper in time.

"He was very strong, very brave and he was full of promise for the future," the 56-year-old explained.

"He should have been the number one in future times."

Attuquayefio, who took charge of the Squirrels in April 2003 and led them to their first African Cup of Nations last year, used to pick Samiou as his third-choice goalkeeper in the national squad.

According to Beninois police, Samiou was killed after refusing to hand over his two mobile phones to three men, one of whom was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the incident.

"I am sure he wouldn't have willingly handed over his phones," the Hearts coach explained.

"He was an aggressive guy even though he was highly-disciplined, but I know he wouldn't have wanted to be cheated.

"When you saw him arguing with his colleagues, he always wanted to stamp his authority."

Youssoufou Samiou

Samiou was attacked just one day after Benin's opening Group A fixture of the African Youth Championship, when the Junior Squirrels suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat against Nigeria.

Many early reports linked the assault on the goalkeeper to the defeat and although this was not the case, Attuquayefio knows the extremes to which Beninois football fans can go.

"Sometimes, things can be bad in Benin," he explained.

"Before we went to Tunisia 2004, the national captain was nursing an injury and I thought he couldn't play a match so I didn't include him.

"The reaction was unpleasant and for two days, people were on the street and marched against me because the player was not included."

"The fans threatened me, the police were called in and for two days I could not go out."

Attuquayefio quit Benin last July after he failed to settle his differences with the country's football federation shortly before a 2006 World Cup and Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt.

Despite his experiences, the Ghanaian looks back on his time with Benin - "a peaceful country" - with fondness.

And he would love nothing more than to see the hosts win Benin 2005, not least of all because there was no under-20 team in the country before his arrival.

"I would like to see Benin win the championship because I feel very proud that we introduced the under-20s," the former national coach added.

"I will not rule the Junior Squirrels out as competition winners but the way the Nigerians have started the tournament has impressed me."

"I have been following the championship with interest and hope to travel to watch the closing stages next week."




SEE ALSO
African Youth Championship
16 Jul 04 |  African
Tragedy hits youth championship
17 Jan 05 |  African
Hearts win Confederation Cup
09 Jan 05 |  African
Attuquayefio quits Benin
02 Aug 04 |  African
Benin appoint Ghanaian coach
29 Apr 03 |  African



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