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Benin Republic’s Salomon stands up for NPFL in Egypt

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Benin Republic players saluting their fans for their fantastic support after being knocked out of the African Cup of Nations by Senegal…yesterday.

For the advocates of Nigeria-based players in the Super Eagles, Junior Salomon’s case is a good example of the merits in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

Among the stars one of the surprise teams of the on-going African Cup of Nations in Egypt is the player based in Nigeria. Salomon plays for Plateau United in the NPFL, but that has not removed anything from his displays for the Squirrels, who lost 0-1 to Senegal in one of the quarterfinals of the current AFCON.

At home with the foreign-based players in his team, Salomon said the experience he got playing in the NPFL is instrumental to his performance in Egypt.

The Squirrels caused a major upset by beating one of the competition’s favourites, Atlas Lions of Morocco on penalty in the round of 16. The exit of the North African giants sent shock waves across the entire continent.

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Before the Squirrels played against their fellow West African country, Teranga Lions of Senegal yesterday in the quarterfinal here in Cairo, Salomon found time to speak with some Nigerian journalists on his experience so far in the competition.

Born in April 1986 in Abomey, the Beninese footballer currently plays for Plateau United. He began his career with Université Nationale du Bénin FC before joining ASPAC Cotonou in 2009. He left Benin in 2011 and joined top Ivorian club, ASEC Mimosas.

Salomon, a defender then returned to Benin in 2013 to play for USS Kraké briefly before transferring to former Nigerian champions, Bayelsa United in March of the same year. He joined promoted Plateau United ahead of the 2016 season following Bayelsa United’s relegation.

Speaking on his experience here in Egypt, Salomon said: “This Egypt 2019 Afcon has been very interesting. Many people actually wrote us off before our match against Morocco.

“They felt Morocco would over run us on the field of play, but it turned out that we won. Some of us couldn’t sleep after we defeated Morocco. It was a great excitement for us. This is the best national team Benin has ever assembled.”

Apart from Salomon, who plies his professional soccer trade in Nigeria, two other members of the Squirrels play in Tunisia. Only one player is home-based, while other members of the squad play in various European countries.

Salomon began his international career in 2008/2009 football season, and was part of the Squirrels to the 2010 edition of the African Cup of Nations held in Angola.

The Guardian recalls that at Angola 2010, the Squirrels of Benin gave the Coach Amodu Shaibu-led Super Eagles big headache in their group stage match in Benguella, a few days before Nigeria lost 3-1 to the Pharaohs of Egypt.

The Eagles struggled to beat Salomon and his Squirrels 1-0. Before then the Eagles had defeated the Squirrels 2-1 at Tunisia 2004 and 2-0 in the 2008 edition held in Ghana.

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