Ex-France youth star switches to Benin


Les Ecureuils, translates into English as The Squirrels, was coined in the 1960's - apparently to reflect a small nation aiming to climb high.

But the country's football governing body feels that it is time for a change in order to reflect the team's ambitions.

"There is no need to pretend that the national team's nickname of "Squirrels" is liked by all parties involved in the team set up," an FBF statement read.

"The name given to the national team must resonate with the population and reflect our strong ambitions in the sporting world.

"In order clarify this and propose a new name for the national team the Executive Committee of the FBF has set up a committee on the change of name for the national team of Benin."

Benin have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup and have only played in three African Cup of Nations in 2004, 2008 and 2010.

However, a recent influx of talent has seen the West African gain the likes of Steve Mounie of Huddersfield Town, Olivier Verdon of Sochaux and now former France Under-20 World Cup goalkeeper Jonathan Ligali has pledged his international future to the African minnows.

The 27-year-old, who plays his club football in France for Montpellier, is eligible to play for the Squirrels because his mother is from Benin.

Under FIFA rules, he is free to switch because he has not yet played for France's senior national team.

"Yes, I'm available to play for Benin if they call me," he told BBC Sport. "It would definitely be a great honour for me to represent the country of my mother."

Ligali represented France at under-18, under-19 and under-20 levels.

He played all seven matches as the French side finished fourth at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.