benin to fight till the end

BENGUELA, Angola - The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C game between Egypt and Benin in Benguela today will match the continent's heavyweights against the underdogs, who are fired up to get their first-ever win in the competition.

The Squirrels are third in Group C with a point from two matches, but still have a chance of progressing to the next round if they shock the African champions and second-placed Nigeria lose to Mozambique.

Benin coach Michel Dessuyer said: "We have not given up yet because we still have a match to play and if we get the results we wish for, we could still remain in the tournament. We will fight till the end."

Benin pulled off a shock result in the qualifiers when they pipped the Black Stars of Ghana 1-0 at home in September.

Six-time champions Egypt, on the other hand, will be hoping to extend a new record by going unbeaten in 15 matches in the championship since the 2004 tournament.

The previous record of 14 games without defeat was held by Cameroon, who achieved this feat between 1984 and 1988.

The Pharaohs are top of Group C after they netted maximum points from their first two matches against Nigeria and Mozambique.

They thus became the second team after Ivory Coast to reach the last eight in Angola and as a result coach Hassan Shehata will give several fringe players a run today. Skipper Ahmed Hassan, 34, will also be in action for his 169th cap to equal the all-time Egyptian record of 169 caps set by striker Hossam Hassan.

Last year, both teams clashed in a friendly in Cairo with Egypt running away 4-1 winners. Benin's goal was scored by their Nigerian-born striker Razak Omotoyossi.

The team's leading scorer in the qualifiers with eight goals from 11 matches, Omotoyossi was again on target in the opening group game at the Ombaka Stadium against Mozambique as the Squirrels failed to defend a two-goal lead to draw 2-2. - Sapa-AP