Africa: Côte d’Ivoire Secure Dramatic Shootout Victory Over Benin to Reach WAFU-B U20 Cup Final

Côte d’Ivoire qualified for the final of the WAFU-B Under-20 Boys Cup after a pulsating penalty shootout win against Benin on Monday night.

The Baby Elephants and Junior Cheetahs played out a four-goal thriller in regulation time that finished 2-2 after 90 minutes. But Côte d’Ivoire prevailed 3-2 on penalties to set up a final clash with Burkina Faso.

In a semi-final full of twists and turns, Benin stunned the home side and favourites by taking the lead inside two minutes through a long-range strike from Alassane Maboumou.

The Baby Elephants eventually restored parity on 15 minutes when Oumar Konaté finished off a slick team move. However, the Ivorian defence was carved open again on 35 minutes as Sohbour Roufai slotted home to put Benin back in front.

With the score at 2-1 going into first half stoppage time, Konaté won a penalty for Côte d’Ivoire after being fouled in the area. Abdramane Konaté stepped up and coolly converted to make it 2-2 at the break.

Chances came and went for both sides after the restart, but the scores remained level to force a tense penalty shootout. Cote d’Ivoire goalkeeper Irie Bi Gohi emerged as the shoot-out hero, making a crucial stop to help his nation claim a 3-2 victory.

“I thank the fans for their support. The players were motivated until the end. We will fight in the final for the thousands of Ivorians who have believed in us,” said a delighted coach Lassina Dao.

Côte d’Ivoire will now face Burkina Faso in the final on Thursday after they defeated Togo 1-0 in the other semi-final thanks to an 85th minute winner from Abdoul Ouattara.

It sets up a mouthwatering West African derby between the tournament’s two remaining unbeaten teams. Côte d’Ivoire will be hoping Konaté can continue his goalscoring form to fire them to glory.

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