Pre-tournament favourites Morocco booked their place in the second round of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon with a comfortable 2-0 win over Comoros Island on Friday evening.
Comoros’ goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina had the game of his life, making a series of stunning saves, including an incredible penalty stop, to limit the Atlas Lions to just two goals in their Group C clash at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.
Cameroon, Morocco, Gabon all through to the Round of 16. #AFCON2021— Solace Chukwu (@TheOddSolace) January 14, 2022
It was quite cagey in the first few minutes of the game but it was Morocco who were able to settle in on time and got the opener after just 15 minutes as Selim Amallah found some space to smash home inside a crowded box.
The former champions were on the front foot from there on but could not add to their tally as Sofiane Boufal sent his attempt off the mark while Nayef Aguerd’s powerful header came off the woodwork before Ayoub El Kaabi was denied by a brave tackle at the last moment.
After the break, it was all Morocco and Ben Boina was there to deny them on multiple occasions. He saved El Kaabi’s effort before denying Boufal from some yards out and got down quick enough to deny Achraf Hakimi from a 25-yard free-kick as well.
Historic Performance 🤯— #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 🏆 (@CAF_Online) January 14, 2022
Salim Ben Boina earned the TotalEnergies Man of the Match award after his super performance against #TeamMorocco! 🧤 🇰🇲#TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 | #AFCON2021 | #MARCOM | #TeamComoros | @Football2Gether pic.twitter.com/kNFlVkneoY
In the pick of the bunch, Ben made a triple stop to deny Aguerd, Romain Saïss and Adam Masina later. The goalie then conceded a penalty for a foul in the box, but he redeemed himself by denying Youssef En-Nesyri from twelve 12 yards out.
However, in stoppage time, the North Africans found a second through Zakaria Aboukhlal who slotted home after beating the offside trap to round up the game and seal progression for his side to the knock-out stages with a game to spare. For Comoros, they look set to be eliminated after two defeats from their first two games.
Elsewhere in the group, Ghana were pegged back late on by a smart finish from Jim Allevinah for Gabon on Friday evening. Andre Ayew’s stunning strike in the first half was canceled out by the Clermont forward to deny the Black Stars their first win of the tournament.
Nothing to separate Group heavyweights
Wasteful Senegal and Guinea settled for a goalless draw in their top of the group clash in Bafoussam.
The West African rivals came into the fixture with identical records after 1-0 wins in their respective opening games, and victory was on the agenda for both teams.
FULL-TIME! ⏰ #TeamSenegal 0️⃣-0️⃣ #TeamGuinea— #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 🏆 (@CAF_Online) January 14, 2022
Both sides add one point to their tallies as it ends goalless in our first game of the day! 🤝 #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 | #AFCON2021 | #SENGIN pic.twitter.com/kDIwU9364v
The ‘Lions of Teranga’ underperformed and Guinea were a match for them as they brought their A-game too. It was a game of few chances in the opening half of the game but in the second half Senegal almost went in front through Diallo’s powerful header but Aly Keita made a fingertip save.
However, Bouna Sarr and Abdou Diallo missed two glorious second-half chances for Senegal as Guinea held on to keep their unbeaten start to the tournament. The draw was a fair result for both sides and the battle for who finishes top will be decided in the final round of games.
Gabadinho Mhango’s brace led Malawi to a comeback win over Zimbabwe in their Group B clash on Friday. The Flames are now on the verge of reaching the next round courtesy of the win, while Zimbabwe have an outside chance of making it out of the group.
Photo Credit: AFP