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2023 AFCON U-20 Qualifying: Ivory Coast march on with win against Togo; Benin draw hosts Niger

Ivory Coast’s Seydou Traoré is quickly establishing himself as a real talent to watch in qualifying for the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations. The Racing Club d’Abidjan player made it three goals in the first two games for Les Petits Éléphants as they took down Togo in Group A play on Tuesday in the WAFU-Zone B qualifying competition by a 2-0 score. Hosts Niger kept their hopes of reaching the semifinals alive with a 0-0 draw against Benin.

An electric start from the young Elephants gave them the lead within the opening ten minutes. Abdramane Konaté created all sorts of problems for the Togolese defense with his dribbling and opened up room on the left flank by driving past a defender before laying a low cross to the center of the penalty area. Traoré was wide open as he ran onto the service and easily slotted his shot into the goal to give Ivory Coast an early lead.

The Togolese team did well to stay in the match largely thanks to goalkeeper Aklesso Kpemin, who came up with a brave double save soon after Traoré’s opener. Togo nearly equalized with a couple of good looks at the Ivorian goal before the half hour mark with Komlan Akakpo coming closest, curling his first time effort over from 20 yards out. However, in the second half it was Traoré who finished off the Togolese when he collected a pass on the left wing before cutting inside and blasting his shot past Kpemin.

In the later match, hosts Niger played out a scoreless draw against Benin. An energetic start from Niger created a few looks on goal but the Beninese defense held out well to keep the score level. Benin settled in as time wore on and the match saw the two teams cancel each other out with missed opportunities and strong defending the theme throughout.

Ivory Coast are top of Group A with six points and are guaranteed a spot in the semifinals while Benin are in second with four points and Niger in third with one point. Niger will need a win when they face last placed Togo in their final match, who have zero points, and top-2 sides Ivory Coast and Benin square off on the final group of fixtures. Highlights from both of Tuesday’s games are below.

Ivory Coast 2-0 Togo

Niger 0-0 Benin

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