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Football | CHAN 2014

Hassan Benabicha © Backpagepix

Benabicha applauds Moroccan subs



Hassan Benabicha believes the three substitutions he made during the second half against Uganda proved crucial to Morocco’s passage through to the knockout stage of the CAF African Nations Championships.

The Atlas Lions were on the brink of elimination from the tournament after Yunus Sentamu cancelled out Abdessamad Rafik’s first half opener with half an hour remaining.

But with little over a quarter of an hour to go, Benabicha opted for more attacking options upfront. Abdessamad El Mobarky, the scorer of the decisive goal which saw Morocco qualify for the tournament and dispose of the defending champions Tunisia, was brought on along with Iajour Mouhssine.

“We did not have any other choice than to win,” he said after the 3-1 win at Cape Town Stadium.

“We started the encounter on a good note, while we were a bit on the back foot in the second half with the pressure from our opponent.”

Both proved to be the decisive change needed, as El Mobarky was the one who threaded the ball to Iajour who then beat Benjamin Ochan from just inside the area.

Abdelkbir El Ouadi’s stoppage time goal but the result beyond reach, as the North Africans set-up a tantalising quarterfinal clash against Nigeria next Saturday.

“Then, we decided to ‘roll the dice’ and made some changes,” added the coach. “And the coming in of Iajour [Mouhssine], [Zakaria] Hadraf and El Mobarky proved to be a good move. This is a deserved victory…

“Now we must prepare well for our game against Nigeria which will be equally crucial. And why not beat them and reach the semifinal?”

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