Benin Edges Rwanda: Key Moments in a Thrilling World Cup Qualifier

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Benin defeated Rwanda 1-0 in World Cup qualifier.
Dokou’s 37th-minute goal was the match winner.
Rwanda dominated second half but missed key chances.
Next games: Rwanda vs. Lesotho, Benin vs. Nigeria.

In an intense encounter at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, Rwanda fell 1-0 to Benin in a crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier. The match, decided by Dodo Dokou’s 37th-minute strike, was a testament to strategic play and missed opportunities.

Benin’s Tactical Revamp

Benin’s coach made several strategic changes that paid off. Marcel Danjinou, David Kiki, and Rachid Moumini were introduced to the starting lineup, bringing fresh energy and dynamism. This lineup shift aimed to bolster both their defensive solidity and attacking prowess.

The early stages of the game saw a cautious approach from both teams, with Benin gradually imposing themselves. Benin’s patient buildup play and utilization of set pieces proved pivotal. Their goal was a result of sustained pressure, culminating in Dokou’s clinical finish from a well-delivered Moumini corner.

Rwanda’s Defensive Setup and Challenges

Rwanda’s coach, Torsten Spittler, opted for a defensive setup, intending to absorb pressure and strike on the counter. Emmanuel Imanishimwe and Fitina Omborenga were tasked with overlapping runs, but the midfield, led by Hakim Sahabo, struggled to find space.

The defensive strategy had its merits, but Rwanda’s midfield failed to link effectively with the forwards, limiting their offensive threats. The backline, despite its resilience, was caught off-guard during the crucial corner that led to Benin’s goal, highlighting a lapse in concentration.

Key Substitutions and Tactical Adjustments

Spittler’s response to the first-half deficit involved crucial substitutions. Introducing Samuel Gueulette for Rafael York and Kevin Muhire for Hakim Sahabo added urgency to Rwanda’s attack. Gueulette’s pairing with Nshuti upfront and Muhire’s shift to the right wing created a more dynamic forward line.

These changes saw Rwanda dominate possession in the second half, with increased attacking threats. However, Benin’s defense, marshaled by goalkeeper Dandjunou, held firm. Fiacre Ntwari’s heroic saves and Moumini’s near miss from hitting the post underscored the end-to-end nature of the contest.

Missed Opportunities and Final Push

The latter stages of the game were marked by Rwanda’s relentless pursuit of an equalizer. Thierry Manzi’s missed header and Dandjunou’s crucial save from Gueulette typified Rwanda’s night of missed chances. Jojea Kwizera’s introduction added a new dimension, his pace and creativity troubling the Benin defense.

Despite Rwanda’s bombardment in the final minutes, Benin’s resilience saw them secure the win. This defeat, while disappointing for Rwanda, showcased their potential and the tactical depth of their squad.

Moving Forward: Next Fixtures

Rwanda’s focus now shifts to their upcoming clash with Lesotho at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa. This match presents an opportunity for Rwanda to regroup and refine their tactics. On the other hand, Benin’s victory sets up an exciting encounter with Nigeria, where they will look to build on their momentum.

Key Moments From The Match

Dodo Dokou scored from a Moumini corner, breaking the deadlock.
Rwanda’s coach Spittler made strategic substitutions, boosting second-half attack.
Fiacre Ntwari made crucial saves, keeping Rwanda’s hopes alive.
Thierry Manzi and Samuel Gueulette missed key chances to equalize.

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