While Uganda failed yet again to make an impact at the final moments of the tournament, Morocco became the first team to successfully defend the African Nations Championship (CHAN) trophy with a 2-0 win over Mali in Cameroon on Sunday.
Morocco put on a wonderful performance at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, fighting tooth and nail to earn its deserved win against Mali in the second half of the game, scoring two goals which sealed their win.
Surrounded by 6,700 fans, the Morocco and Mali game was the centre of attention during the final moments of CHAN tournament, as many tuned in to their TVs to see how the two will play it out to the end.
Unfortunately, Mali wasn’t able to hold back the Moroccans who took the initiative when Soufiane Bouftini scored the first goal and moments later Ayoub El Kaabi sealed it with the second giving them the title win. It should be noted that Ayoub was a crucial factor in their title win in 2018 when he scored nine goals to help Morocco win the title on home soil.
Aside from that, Mali faced it rough as they ended the game with only 10 men after Issaka Samake was sent off the pitch for a second yellow card as the match moved towards injury time.
Mali started the match with high form, attacking the Moroccans at all angles, something that surprised their opponents – disrupting their passing game. The first 20 minutes of the game saw clumsy challenges coming from both sides but none delivered any results.
There were some clumsy challenges from both sides in the opening 20 minutes and from one of the resulting free-kicks, Soufiane Rahimi picked up a short pass before firing a shot from the edge of the area which Mali captain and keeper Djigui Diarra scrambled away, with the help of his defence.
Morocco breaks record as it retains the CHAN title
During the second half, Morocco was able to win more possession and created early chances that nearly saw the ball close in towards the Mali net. Ten minutes after the break, they thought they had earned a penalty only for VAR to rule otherwise.
Both teams tried several tactics to win a chance to get the ball passed their opposing goalkeepers. Mali’s Sadio Kanoute header nearly hit the spot but it was narrowly wide and off the target mark.
In the 63rd minute, Moussa Kone was found himself yet again one-on-one with the keeper but Zniti made another excellent save. It was in the 69th minute that the game saw its first goal with Bouftini heading it home after Omar Namsaoui’s corner.
Morocco’s second goal was considered a lucky one after the ball looked to have gone behind for a goal kick but the referee awarded a corner that was headed back across goal by Mohammed Ali Bemammer and nodded home by El Kaabi.
El Kaabi’s compatriot Soufiane Rahimi finished as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, including a brace in the semi-final win over hosts Cameroon.
Recently reinstated Confederation of African Football president Ahmad was part of the presentation ceremony at the end of the match alongside former Cameroon players Samuel Eto’o, Patrick Mboma and Jacques Songo’o.
Source: BBC Sports