Morocco made to work hard for opening victory over Tanzania

Pre-tournament favourites Morocco began their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a convincing win over 10-man Tanzania in Group F.

The Atlas Lions took the lead on the half hour when Romain Saiss pounced after Hakim Ziyech’s swerving free-kick was palmed back into danger.

Tanzania had Novatus Miroshi sent off with 20 minutes left and Azzedine Ounahi’s slick finish doubled the lead.

Youssef En-Nesyri converted Achraf Hakimi’s cross to round off victory.

Morocco won their sole continental title in 1976 but are firmly among the expected challengers for the trophy in Ivory Coast following their historic run to the semi-finals at the 2022 World Cup.

Their success in Qatar against the likes of Belgium, Spain and Portugal largely came as a counter-attacking outfit and, as Africa’s top-ranked side, Walid Regregui’s men now need to play on the front foot against lower-ranked opponents.

The Atlas Lions comfortably achieved that in their opener in San Pedro, with goalkeeper Bono largely a spectator.

Ziyech’s free-kick provided the chance for captain Saiss to break the deadlock, and the former Chelsea winger had a curling effort parried away before the break.

Tanzania, on their third appearance at the Afcon finals and still awaiting a first victory, struggled for rhythm and their task got harder when Miroshi was dismissed.

He had been booked for bringing down Ounahi just outside the box in the first half, and the Taifa Stars man picked up his second caution for another late sliding challenge on the Morocco midfielder.

The lively Ounahi got on the scoresheet with a controlled finish into the bottom left-hand corner following some slick passing play to help Morocco avoid a potential upset in a tournament which has sprung several surprises in the opening round of games.

Former winners DR Congo and Zambia meet in Group F’s other game on Wednesday evening (20:00 GMT), with all four sides back in action again on Sunday.

Source: BBC

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