Republic of Benin centre back Junior Salomon has expressed his “great feeling” to www.aclsports.com after his team qualified for the round of 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time ever on Tuesday.
Salomon who plays for Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side Plateau United is among the twenty-three players representing the Squirrels in Africa’s Mundial in Egypt.
Coached by Michel Dussuyer, the Beninoise held all their group opponents – including defending champions Cameroon and four times winners Ghana – to stalemates in Ismailia to advance beyond the group stage of the competition.
“It’s a great feeling to be among the Benin team that just qualified for the next round of the Nations Cup,” began the 33-year old to www.aclsports.com
“It wasn’t easy for us because coming into this tournament, no one believed we would have gotten to this stage but with our hard work, dedication and prayers, we’ve been able to scale through and qualify Benin for the first time ever to the next round.
“It’s a great feeling and I’m very happy to be part of the team and make history with the team,” added Salomon.
The Beninoise side ironically have remained unbeaten after their three group games but will face one of the tournament’s Morocco in their historic fixture at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Friday.
“I know it’s not going to be an easy game,” admitted the former Bayelsa United captain.
“Since we came into this tournament, we’ve taken our matches as they come and I think the next one against Morocco too is going to be a tough one. But we’re up to the task and we will give it our all and we’ll see what comes out of it.
“Morocco are a very good team and very experienced side like we all know and we too, we know that we are the underdogs, we have nothing to lose and at the same time, we will give it our all and at the end of the day, we’ll see what comes out of it,” concluded Salomon.
The Morocco vs Benin game will signal the commencement of the Round of 16 fixtures on Friday at 6pm local time (5PM in Nigeria).