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Morocco Triumphs, Ivory Coast Advances in AFCON
- Updated: January 25, 2024
Morocco secured a 1-0 victory over Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations, topping Group F with seven points. Despite resting key players and facing challenges, Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech’s first-half goal proved decisive. The win also ensured Ivory Coast’s qualification to the knockout stage, where they will face Senegal. Morocco’s triumph was overshadowed by the suspension of coach Walid Regragui and an injury to stand-in captain Ziyech. The Ivorians, with a new coach Emerse Fae, will face Senegal in the last-16 round, while Morocco sets up a clash with South Africa.
In a crucial Group F encounter, Morocco faced Zambia, knowing that a victory would secure their place at the top of the group. Hakim Ziyech’s smart close-range finish in the 38th minute proved to be the decisive moment, lifting Morocco to seven points. Despite Ziyech leaving the pitch with an ankle injury at halftime, Morocco held on to secure the win.
The victory also had significant implications for Ivory Coast, who secured a spot in the knockout stage, thanks to Zambia finishing third in the group with two points. Ivory Coast’s qualification sparked celebrations among the local fans, as they now prepare to face Senegal in the round of 16.
However, the road to victory for Morocco was not without challenges. Coach Walid Regragui was banished to the stands after receiving a four-match suspension from the Confederation of African Football. The suspension stemmed from an on-field altercation with DR Congo captain Chancel Mbemba in their previous match. Despite the absence of key players and the coach, Morocco displayed resilience and skill to secure the win.
Zambia’s striker Patson Daka had an early opportunity, but Morocco soon took control of the game. Ismael Saibari and Nayef Aguerd had chances before Ziyech’s goal, showcasing Morocco’s dominance. Ayoub El Kaabi and Saibari had additional opportunities, while Zambia’s Lameck Banda narrowly missed a chance for an equalizer in the 59th minute.
Despite changing much of their lineup and resting key players, Morocco’s victory was well-deserved. The win sets up a knockout round clash with South Africa next Tuesday. On the other hand, DR Congo, finishing second in the group, will face Egypt on Sunday.
While Morocco’s triumph on the field is commendable, the focus will now shift to the recovery of Hakim Ziyech and the preparations for the knockout stage. Ivory Coast’s qualification adds another layer of excitement to the tournament, with the Ivorians set to face a tough challenge against Senegal in the next round.
As the Africa Cup of Nations progresses, the unpredictable nature of football continues to unfold, with each match bringing new storylines and challenges for the teams vying for continental glory. Morocco’s journey, marked by resilience and determination, sets the stage for an intriguing knockout stage encounter against South Africa.
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By- Sahiba Suri