In one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the tournament, Morocco showed why they are considered one of the favorites to seal the title by beating “The Elephants” in perhaps the most entertaining game of the tournament so far.
Right from the start, this game showed its quality. Jonathan Kodjia was denied a goal by Romain Saiss’ headed clearance off the line inside the opening minute.
The tempo of the game stayed high, and eventual Morocco struck. Nordin Amrabat danced his way towards the box and then slipped in Youssef En Nesyri who finished smartly.
Three minutes later, Max Gradel’s effort was saved by Bono and with the goal gaping, Jean Michael Seri fired into the side netting.
En Nesyri should have had a second before the break after another smart team move by Morocco, but Sylvain Gbohouo made a brilliant diving save to deny him.
Ivory Coast continued to struggle to muster enough danger in attack, whereas Morocco kept looking dangerous. Again, En Nesyri was found in the box both an offside flag and a brilliant Gbohouo save denied him a special second. In injury time, Noussair Mazraoui hit the bar as Morocco ended the game as winners but by a scoreline that didn’t reflect their control.
Herve Renard, the coach who led Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015 to Africa Cup glory, is hoping to do the same with Morocco this year. So far, the signs look good.
Tunisia had to save a draw against a strong Mali side that Moussa Marega nearly dragged to victory.
Wahbi Khazri had the two best chances of a relatively muted first half. The playmaker rattled the post with a free kick before later firing wide from an unmarked position.
Somewhat against the run of play, Mali took the lead when Mouez Hassen fluffed Diadie Samassekou’s corner and it ended in the net.
Tunisia looked a little shocked, but Khazri was determined not to be denied. The Saint-Etienne midfielder stepped up to take a free kick near the edge of the area and thanks to a wicked deflection, he helped level the scores for Tunisia.
Marega nearly won it late, but this time Hassen was on hand to deny the striker. Tunisia have two points from their first two games and have underwhelmed, considering they were tipped as having an outside chance of winning it all.
South Africa toiled to victory over Namibia. After a slow first half in which Lloyd Jr. Kazapua’s outstanding save was the standout moment, South Africa needed nearly another 25 minutes to wrestle control.
After Namibia’s Deon Hotto had an effort cleared off the line, South Africa got the goal they had been longing for. Percy Tau’s corner was superb and Bongani Zungu hardly had to move to send his header into the back of the net.
The result throws group D wide open, as Ivory Coast and South Africa now both have three points going into the final game.