In a closely fought match, Ivory Coast edged hosts Niger 1-0 in the opening match of the WAFU-Zone B qualifying competition for the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations. Seydou Traoré scored the match’s only goal soon after halftime and Niger missed a golden opportunity to level from the penalty spot as Les Petits Éléphants start their campaign in Group A with three points. Later on Togo fell to Benin in the other Group A match, leaving Benin and Ivory Coast at the top of the table.
Either team could have come out with the victory but Ivory Coast looked more threatening in the final third with their first clear opportunities coming at the end of the first half. Soon after halftime Les Petits Éléphants would find their breakthrough. In the 52nd minute a perfect cross from the right wing found Traoré, who bounced his header in off the crossbar past Niger goalkeeper Naïm Van Attenhoven.
In the second match, Benin impressed in their 1-0 victory over Togo by dominating the first half. Benin could not find the goal they deserved in the first half but their opponents helped them out in the second half. In the 61st minute disastrous passing in the back led to a turnover where Farid Edou was able to send a first-time shot past the Togolese keeper, who was unable to scramble back into position.
Highlights from both Group A matches are below.