A proposal to change the nickname of Benin’s men’s national team from the Squirrels to the Cheetahs is awaiting government approval in the West African country.

Mathurin de Chacus announced the plan after he was re-elected unopposed for a second term as president of the Benin Football Federation (FBF) over the weekend.

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

But De Chacus, a Fifa council member, says the FBF board decided to pick a more evocative name in Guepards (Cheetahs) to reflect the team’s ambitions.

The FBF is confident that sports minister Oswald Homeky will gain the government’s approval before the country’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda in March next year.

“From this day on, there will be no more squirrels in Benin at the football level. From now, our footballers will be called cheetahs,” De Chacus declared.

Benin, ranked 91st in the world, have never qualified for the World Cup and have only played at the Nations Cup finals four times; in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2019.

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