Morocco, solidifying their position as pre-tournament favourites, have secured a convincing 3-0 victory against 10-man Tanzania, marking a triumphant beginning to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Group F.
The World Cup semifinalists showcased their football finesse in an impressive performance at the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro on Wednesday.
Captain Romain Saiss, in a rare scoring moment, propelled the Atlas Lions ahead at halftime, with Azzedine Ounahi and Youssef En-Nesyri adding two more goals within three minutes during the second half, underscoring their dominance. This assertion was particularly evident after Tanzania’s Novatus Miroshi received a second caution, reducing them to 10 players.
En-Nesyri, who had been patiently waiting on the substitutes’ bench, initially had his goal celebrations interrupted by the offside flag after scoring the third goal in the 80th minute. However, a VAR check confirmed his onside position for Achraf Hakimi’s cross, prompting joyous celebrations among his teammates and a rush to the Moroccan bench to congratulate the Sevilla forward.
Ounahi sealed the victory seven minutes later, executing a one-two with Amine Adli and slotting a precise low shot inside the left post. En-Nesyri, three minutes before the final whistle, had the last say in an emphatic display of Moroccan dominance.
Despite being an African powerhouse for decades, Morocco, seeking only their second Cup of Nations title, achieved their first victory 48 years after lifting the trophy in Ethiopia.
The triumph over Tanzania, considered group outsiders, was expected, given Morocco’s 13th world ranking, a staggering 108 places above the Taifa Stars. The Moroccan lineup included seven players from the team that started in the 2-0 World Cup semifinal loss to France in Qatar, featuring representation from La Liga, the Premier League, Ligue 1, and Saudi Pro League sides, as well as players from Turkish and Egyptian clubs.
This starkly contrasted with Tanzania’s lineup, which included Tarryn Allarakhia from English fifth-tier outfit Wealdstone. The winger struggled and was replaced after 38 minutes.
The commanding 3-0 scoreline mirrored the three-goal victory for holders Senegal over The Gambia on Monday, further solidifying Morocco and Senegal’s positions as the continent’s top-ranked sides and frontrunners for success in the tournament.