Morocco through, Uganda out
Iajour Mouhssine came off the bench to score a decisive goal which put Morocco through to the quarterfinals of the CAF African Nations Championships with their 3-1 defeat over Uganda at Cape Town Stadium on Monday evening.
The Moroccans were staring elimination in the face after Yunus Sentamu cancelled out the North African’s advantage, but the victory means Uganda are eliminated from the tournament due to Zimbabwe’s win.
The permutations coming into the game were simple: a win for Uganda would secure them safe passage into the quarterfinals of the tournament, while Morocco needed a victory to ensure the same fate would be handed to them.
The Cranes were the first to offer an attempt at goal when Brian Majwega’s cross into the box was punched away by goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri in the opening minute of the game.
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That effort resulted in a trademark Morocco counter-attack and it saw Abdelkbir El Ouadi fire a shot at goal that went narrowly wide before eventually seeing the play blown for offside.
In the 16th minute Vincent Kayizzi worked his way into the box and tried to toe-poke the ball around Adil Karrouchy at the near post. The Moroccan did well to clear his opponent’s effort off the line to relieve some pressure from Morocco’s goal.
Lamyaghri nearly handed Uganda an opening goal in the 22nd minute when he did made a great save off a curling free-kick, but upon lifting his body, the ball failed to stay in his hands and it strolled into the path of Denis Iguma. Luckily, the Ugandan was slow to react and the shot-stopper plucked it up to remove any possibility of danger.
Morocco deservingly took the lead just before the half hour mark from another well-worked counter-attack. El Ouadi worked his way into the box to cross the ball across the face of goal from the byline, and it met Abdessamad Rafik who tapped it in to break the deadlock.
The scoreline nearly changed to 1-1 just three minutes later but, under chaotic circumstances, the Atlas Lions maintained their lead.
Lamyaghri made a one-handed save from a corner kick. The ball went as far as Savio Kabugo who headed it back at goal, only to see that it was cleared away by the opposition off the line.
Uganda went into the break protesting for a penalty after Yunus Sentamu, who scored a brace against Burkina Faso, went down in the box following a shoulder barge with Mohamed Abarhoun, but the Zambian referee gave nothing.
At the restart, Mohsine Moutaouali saw his effort struck on the outside of his foot go wide of goal, while Sentamu’s header on the other end of the field did the exact same thing.
Uganda eventually made it 1-1 on the stroke of the hour due to some great play by Sentamu. The striker started the action by passing the ball to Kayizzi, who then chipped it back at the No 9 and he knocked it past the Moroccan goalkeeper.
Hassan Benabicha’s side were on the brink of elimination and in hope of securing their future, Abdessamad El Mobarky, scorer of the decisive goal to ensure their qualification in the tournament, was brought on with just over a quarter of an hour to spare.
It proved to be decisive as El Mobarky pounced on a strayed ball by the Ugandan defence and threaded it through to Iajour Mouhssine. The substitute struck in a low drive just inside the box to make it 2-1 with 13 minutes to go.
El Ouadi added the cherry on top when he pounced on a long ball to burst into the box. He dummied the Ugandan ‘keeper, rounded a defender and slotted it into the back of the net to wrap up a convincing win in stoppage time.
Morocco (1) 3 (Rafik 29’, Mouhssine 77’, El Ouadi 93’)
Uganda (0) 1 (Sentamu 60’)
Morocco: Lamyaghri, El Hachimi, Karrouchy, Abarhoun, Oulhaj, Said, Rafik (Hadraf 67’), Erraki, Moutaouali (El Mobarky 73’), El Bahri (Mouhssine 65’), El Ouadi
Uganda: Ochan, Muleme, Ntambi (Wadada 46’), Kabugo, Iguma, Kassaga, Ntege, Majwega, Wasswa (Olaki 62’), Kayizzi, Sentamu