The intermediate Atlas Lions of Morocca have beaten Togo 1#0, in the first pool C game at the African Nations championship. The game was played at the Douala Reunification stadium on Monday afternoon.
Yahya Jebrane’s 27 minute penalty meant Morocco started their title defense in scintillating fashion.
The defending champions were the favourites going into the match against debutants Togo.
The Moroccans dominated the first quarter of the game, with Zakaria Hadraf and Soufiane Rahimi being a constant threat down the right flange.
Morocco’s claims for a penalty at the 10th minute of play, were waved away by referee Andofetra Rakotojaona, after Soufiane Rahimi appeared to have been bundled down in Togo’s penalty area, by Moubarak Issifou.
The boys of Jean Paul Abalo stayed solid at the back, stopping all offensives from Rahimi, while the much talked about Ayoub El Kaabi was nowhere near his best.
Goalkeeper Abdoul Moubarak Aigba stopped Yahya Jabrane’s penalty at the 25th minute, but unfortunately for the shot stopper, he came off his line, forcing the penalty to be retaken. Yahya Jabrane made no mistake this time around, as he slotted it home, to give Morocca the lead.
Captain Ayoub El Kaabi had a glorious chance to increase tally for the Atlas lions , but he could not connect well with Abdelkrim Baadi’s cross.
Morocco failed to make good use of the many corner kicks they had late in the first half, as Yahya Jabrane’s 27 minute penalty made the difference at the break.
The Sparrow hawks of Togo looked more lively in the second segment, but more clear cut chances went Morocco’s way.
Goalkeeper Abdoul Moubarak Aigba time and again denied Ayoub El Kaabi, Yahya Jabrane and Soufiane Rahimi.
Just after an hour mark, coach Jean Paul Abalo pulled out his captain Akate Gnama and brought in Bilali Akoro.
The Atlas lions managed late pressure from Togo expertly, as coach Lhoussaine Aammouta went defensive, bringing in defender Anas Bach, to replace midfielder Soufiane Rahimi.
Morocco’s title defense is therefore off to a perfect start, as they picked up their first win of the competition.
Lhoussaine Aammouta and his boys will next face Rwanda on January 22, while Jean Paul Abalo’s Togo will lock horns with the cranes of Uganda.