AFCON 2023: Morocco Cruise To Victory Over 10-man Tanzania

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Pre-tournament favourite team, Morocco, began the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a convincing win over 10-man Tanzania in Group F. The Atlas Lions took the lead on the half hour when Romain Saiss pounced after Hakim Ziyech’s swerving free-kick was palmed back into the danger zone.

Tanzania had Novatus Miroshi sent off with 20 minutes left, and Azzedine Ounahi’s slick finish doubled the lead. Youssef En-Nesyri converted Achraf Hakimi’s cross to round off victory.

Morocco won its sole continental title in 1976, but is firmly among the expected challengers for the trophy in Ivory Coast following the historic run to the semi-finals at the 2022 World Cup. The team’s success in Qatar against the likes of Belgium, Spain, and Portugal largely came as a counter-attacking outfit, and as Africa’s top-ranked side, Walid Regregui’s men now need to play on the front foot against lower-ranked opponents.

Coach Regragui expressed satisfaction after his side kicked off their campaign with a composed 3-0 win over Tanzania. “First matches are always difficult, and the humidity made this one tough, but we respected Tanzania,” said Regragui after Wednesday’s Group F clash. “The team’s spirit was very good and we got an important win.”

The Atlas Lions boss felt Morocco executed their game plan well against tricky opponents. “We wanted to score early and had chances, but the goal finally came from a set piece. Once we scored, that was the hard part done,” analysed Regragui. He added: “At times in the second half we accepted not having the ball and managed the game like a great team.”

Regragui also believes Morocco benefitted from playing after other teams at the tournament. eeingng their first matches allowed us to avoid the same mistakes. We noticed many sides declined physically in the second half, so we prepared to stay fresh,” he explained.

The Moroccans will now face DR Congo on January 21st in the second group game. After a composed start, Regragui will hope his talented side can maintain intensity. With stars like Achraf Hakimi and Sofyan Amrabat emerging unscathed, Morocco already appears well-placed to progress in Cote d’Ivoire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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