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AFCON DAILY : Morocco pip Ivory Coast to qualify to the next round

Morocco strengthened their title credentials with a brilliant win over Ivory Coast in what was group D’s biggest fixture.

In what was perhaps their biggest game of the group stages,Morocco qualify to the next stage after putting up an outstanding performance to see past Ivory Coast.

For the second time in a row, the Ivorians chose to leave Wilfried Zaha out of their starting line up, opting for Max Alain Gradel and Nicholas Pepe to play either side of Jonathan Kodjia.

Kodjia started the game very well and even got the first big chance of the game when his 1st minute goal bound header had to be cleared off the line by Roman Saiss.

Morocco however soon nullified the Ivorian attack for most periods of the game as they kept both Pepe and Kodjia silent.

They took control of the game ,with Nordin Amrabat in particular, putting in a man of the match performance.

Amrabat was the main architect of the goal, whizzing through the Ivorian defence before sending Youssef En Neysiri through with a defence splitting pass.

The Leganes forward made no mistake and buried the ball to give the Atlas Lions the lead. Amrabat was then involved in another brilliant move as a give and go by the Moroccans ended up with Ziyech firing straight at the goalkeeper.

Morocco held on for the half time lead and showed promise of even getting better.

After the break, Morocco looked the side most likely to add to the tally with Mazraoui, who came on for Amrabat, hitting the post after another fine team move.

Ivory Coast brought on Wilfried Bony late but it wasn’t enough as Morocco held on for the win.

The win sees Morocco qualify to the next stage and now with a chance to win the group.

South Africa defeated Namibia in an all southern African affair in the other group D game.

The Bafana Bafana got their goal in the 67th minute through a Zungu effort after Percy Tau put in a man of the match performance to urge the Bafana Bafana through and give them a slim chance of qualification.

Earlier in the day, a group E top liner between Tunisia and Mali ended in a 1-1 draw. Mali got the opener after the Tunisian goalkeeper scuffed a direct corner kick from and allowed it into the net.

Tunisia responded few minutes later after Whabi Khazri’s free kick from 25 yards was helped on by a wicked deflection.

The game ended 1-1 as Mali are still in pole position to qualify as group leaders.

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Written by Eli Avot

Eli is a determined young man driven by his will to succeed and his passion for sports. Writer, presenter, pundit.

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