Notorious Referee Appointed for Nigeria’s AFCON Qualifier


Lahlou Benbraham is a name that wouldn’t sound familiar to many Nigerians even among football fans, after all the Match Referee isn’t one of Africa’s elite in the business.

However, Benbraham isn’t totally a ghost figure in Africa’s football circles, the Algerian has built quite a reputation for himself and in some ways it’s borderline notoriety.


The 37 year-old who has been named the Center Referee of Nigeria’s final 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Sao Tome and Principe, is officiating his first game involving the three-time African Champions.

But it won’t be his first time working in an official capacity during a match that involves the Super Eagles or a Nigerian national team.

In fact, Benbraham was the fourth official in games involving the Super Eagles and the Olympic Eagles back in 2021 and 2019 respectively.

The first encounter was in the CAF U23 Africa Cup of Nations between Nigeria and Zambia, which the former won 3-1.

Not long after he was called upon again as a fourth official during the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.

The said game ended 1-1, Victor Osimhen opened scoring inside the first minute, but the visitors responded five minutes later, and held on to snatch a point.

Although he is not on record for any high profile controversies, Lahlou Benbraham is a trigger happy Referee who isn’t shy to dish out cards and that’s where he gets his notoriety from.

Having only begun his career in 2014, the Algerian has officiated about 137 official matches and only once did he go without issuing a caution – in an Algerian Ligue 1 match.

In his last 10 games, Benbraham has issued 69 cards, including 9 sending offs, across games on the Continent and in the Arab Club Champions Cup.

On Sunday, the Algerian takes charge of the Cup of Nations qualifiers between Nigeria and Cape Verde; a dead rubber game because the Super Eagles have already booked their spot in next year’s tournament.

Yet, there’s the small matter of who wins Group A, with Nigeria (12pts) currently ahead of Guinea Bissau by two points in the standings heading into the final day.

On paper it shouldn’t be a difficult ask for Jose Peseiro and his players, who have lost just once in their previous five games in the group, that also houses Sierra Leone.

Sao Tome and Principe on the other hand have been the whipping boys.

The Falcons and True Parrots have managed just a point from their five matches so far.

The fixture for Sunday is scheduled for the Godswill Akpabio Int’l Stadium, Uyo.


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