They were a sorry sight in the magnificent Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca. The boys, who thrilled Nigerians with their gusty football on their way to the final, were a shadow of themselves yesterday, as Morocco strolled to a 4-0 victory in the final of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
The Nigerians’ cause was not helped by the rain that made the pitch difficult to play on. That is not to take anything away from the Moroccans, who came with a game plan, fast-paced football, and executed it successfully.
The Moroccans gave an inkling of what was to come early in the first half when they took the battle to the Nigerians, but the Eagles were able to ward them off up till the 43rd minute of the game. Nigeria was caught sleeping in the 45th minute when Zakaria Hadraf had the time to pick his spot and fire a low shot beyond Dele Ajiboye.
Before the goal, Morocco had the ball inside the net through striker Ayoub El Kaabi, but the goal was correctly ruled out because the ball had passed out of play in its flight.Nigeria was reduced to 10 men in the 47th minute when Peter Eneji was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Mohamed Nahiri.
The Atlas Lions capitalised on their numerical advantage with Walid El Karti putting his name on the scorer’s sheet in the 60th minute when he headed home the rebound when Ajiboye saved Haddad’s shot. Hadraf got his second goal a few minutes later to make it 3-0, while El Kaabi made it four in the 73rd minute with his ninth goal of the competition when he redirected a shot from Nahiri.Yesterday’s victory takes Morocco to the winners’ board, which also has DR Congo, Tunisia and Libya.