On home soil, Morocco successfully defended the title they won four years back with a well worked 5-0 victory over Egypt in Laayoune on Friday. While they struggled to beat the Egyptians 3-2 during the last edition in 2016 in South Africa, this time, the Atlas Lions were flawless and more destructive.
A brace from Soufiane El Mesrar and one each by Abdelatif Fati, Anas El Ayyane and Saad Knia ensured the Atlas Lions retained their title to be crowned African kings for a second time, thus stopping Egypt’s hunt for a historical fourth piece of silverware.
Powered on by the home crowd who had filled the arena to the brim, the Moroccans took maximum use of the home ground advantage to settle the game early, taking a 3-0 halftime lead.
El Mesrar broke the deadlock with just three minutes chalked down on the clock with a swinging shot after being teed u by Bakkali from a freekick.
The home side was in total control with Bakkali and Saad Knia having shots hit the upright as they raided the Egyptian half. Abdelatif Fati came closest with eight minutes left to half time when he wheeled away off a counter, but his little dink over the keeper was wide.
They were 2-0 up however just 28 seconds later when Fati played a quick one two with Achraf Saoud on the right side of the court before he was teed up with a clever run inside the box to tap home past the keeper.
They cemented the lead with three and a half minutes left in the half, El Mesrar completing his brace with a neat finish after another interchange of passes with Bakkali.
The home side took on the cue in the second half and three minutes in extended their lead to 4-0, El Ayyane striking home with a first time left foot shot off an El Mesrar pass. Knia then drove the final nail in Egypt’s coffin with the fifth goal.
He volleyed home from an overhead kick after Bakkali’s shot was blocked.
The Moroccans just enjoyed themselves over the final few minutes of the game to see off a comfortable victory and start off their journey to the FIFA World Cup in Lithuania with an emphatic victory.
At the same time, Morocco’s shot stopper Rheda Khiyari was named the best keeper, having conceded just one goal in an 8-1 victory over Equatorial Guinea.
Angola, who earlier on beat Libya 2-0 to clinch bronze were named as the fair play team of the tournament. Angola’s danger man Jose da Silva Magu clinched the tournament’s Golden Boot after scoring six goals.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)