When Rwandan referee Samuel Uwikunda blew the full-time whistle, the entire Niger bench ran onto the field of play to celebrate with the players who had delivered the country’s first semi-final qualification at a major tournament.

The Menas registered a convincing 2-0 victory over favourites Ghana on a very cold night at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium in Oran, Algeria on Saturday.

At the heart of that performance was former Aduana Stars player Soumana Aboubacar Hainikoye who knew a thing or two about the Black Galaxies and was deservedly named as the TotalEnergies Man-of-the-Match Award.

“I am honoured to have won this award. It means so much to me but also to my teammates who played their hearts out today. We are very content with the victory. It means so much for the people of Niger back home who have been supporting us,” explained the USGN forward with an ear-to-ear smile.

This was Hainikoye’s second Man-of-the-Match Award with the first coming in their last Group E tie against Cameroon in a tournament that has seen the Menas continue to write a new chapter in the history of the West African nation.

“We worked hard today against Ghana. We were disciplined and respected the coach’s instructions. We gave everything and I want to thank my teammates and the entire technical staff. Our attitude was very simple. We were ready because our technical team gave us the plan. We respected the instructions and we managed to win the match,” Hainikoye explained in detail.

Thousands of Nigerien fans as well as Algerians living in Oran cheered on the Menas once again and Hainikoye saluted them when he said, “We thank them all for their continued support. They have been tremendous. I always have a great relationship with CR Belouizdad fans, and I really thank them.”

Hainikoye played for CR Belouizdad in the 2018/19 season and scored his first goal against MC Oran.

Source: CAF