Benin took a step closer to a first ever appearance at the final tournament of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) thanks to a lone goal victory over neighbours Nigeria on Sunday in Cotonou.
Captain Mama Seibou, who plays for ASPAC, scored the only on 87 minutes, converting a penalty to give the Beninois a first leg advantage.
The visiting Super Eagles matched their host squarely throughout, only for the late penalty to deny them a point from the West B Zone clash. With three minutes remaining, 21-year old Seibou elected himself for the spot kick, beating Nigerian goalie Ikechukwu Ezenwa for the match winner.
Since its inception in 2009, 'Les Ecureils' has yet to qualify for the final tournament and that aspiration will face a litmus test in the return leg on Saturday, 19 August 2017 in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.
Nigeria has qualified for the last two editions of the tournament designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues, finishing third in 2014 (South Africa) and failing to go past the group stage in 2016 (Rwanda).
Elsewhere in Niamey, Niger also left it late to beat Cote d'Ivoire 2-1 also in the West B Zone. Seyni Imrana gave 'Mena' the lead on 41 minutes before Fabius Dosso leveled for the visiting Ivorians two minutes before break.
On 85 minutes, striker Halidou Idrissa struck the match winner to give Francois Zahoui's side a slim advantage ahead of the return leg on Saturday, 19 August 2017 in Abidjan.
In the South Zone, Comoros accounted for Namibia 2-1 in Moroni. 'Les Coelecantes' led by two goals at the interval courtesy strikes from Faouz Ali Attoumane and Ali Simba, but Hendrik Somaeb pulled one back for Namibia on 71 minutes.
In Antananarivo, surprise packets Madagascar were held to a barren draw by visiting Angola.
Morocco came from behind to hold debutants Egypt to a 1-1 draw in Alexandria. The Pharaohs depleted by the absence of key players from notables clubs such as Al Ahly, Zamalek and El Masry survived several onslaughts from the Moroccans who missed a second half penalty after Abdelilah Hafidi was denied Mohamed Awad.
Makassa midfielder Ahmed Sayed powered the Pharaohs into the lead from the spot after only three minutes, with Badr Benoun drawing parity seven minutes after the break with a header.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football