Morocco books place in quarters

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Morocco booked their place in the quarterfinals of the African Nations Championship at the expense of Uganda, following an impressive 3-1 victory in their Group B soccer encounter. Photo by Steve Haag

Johannesburg – Morocco booked their place in the quarterfinals of the African Nations Championship (Chan) at the expense of Uganda, following an impressive 3-1 victory in their Group B soccer encounter in Cape Town on Monday night.

Abdessamad Rafik opened the scoring after 29 minutes, before Yunus Sentamu equalised for the Ugandan Cranes on the hour mark.

Substitute Mouhssine Iajour restored the lead for the north Africans after 77 minutes, and the impressive Abdelkbir El Ouadi sealed the win with a stoppage-time breakaway.

The result meant Morocco ended as group winners, and Zimbabwe as runners-up after they overcame Burkina Faso in a simultaneous kick-off.

Uganda, who were pool leaders at the start of the day, ended third.

In an end-to-end contest, Atlas Lions goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri was twice forced to race off his line in the early exchanges after probing deliveries from Brian Majwega and Denis Guma.

The Cranes continued to look more threatening in front of goal and they again had a chance before the midway point of the half when Majwega picked out to Vincent Kayizzi in the box with an inviting cross from the left, but Adil Karrouchy cleared on the line.

Morocco shot into the lead when a splendid run and squared pass from El Ouadi on the left was clipped in from close range by Rafik.

The reply was almost instant as Hassan Waswah watched his powerful volley somehow kept out by the sprawling Lamyaghri.

Before the break, Rafik could have doubled the advantage when he failed to connect cleanly with a Karrouchy cross from the right.

The east Africans came out with more attacking intent after the break and had an early chance to test Lamyaghri: a shot from Isaac Muleme that was curled straight into the arms of the keeper.

However, they were rewarded on the hour when Sentamu collected a lobbed pass from Kayizzi inside the area, took a touch and poked in to level.

Francis Olaki had a chance to win it with 20 minutes to play, but opted to chest instead of head a squared ball that skidded across his path.

El Ouadi missed an open chance from the edge of the box not long after.

With 13 minutes to play, the Moroccans found their winner as replacement Iajour collected a half-cleared ball, brilliantly turned and buried into the bottom right corner. El Ouadi sprinted away through the middle in stoppage time to score and send his side through. – Sapa


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