A hat-trick from Khalid Boutaib ended Gabon’s dreams of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia after losing 3-0 to Morocco in a Group C qualifier at the Stade Mohammed V on Saturday night.
The loss means Gabon, along with Mali who drew 0-0 with Cote d’Ivoire on Friday night, are unable to qualify for the showpiece next year.
The win, however, for Morocco sees them up to nine points in Group C, one above second placed Cote d’Ivoire.
Gabon are third in the group with five points and Mali are last with three points.
In Casablanca on Saturday night, a superb individual performance from Khalid Boutaib saw him net a hat-trick as Morocco cruised to only their second win in the group.
The match itself started a little slowly with neither side creating any significant goal scoring chances in the opening half hour.
The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when a clinical finish from Khalid Boutaib gave the home side the lead, 1-0.
Ten minutes into the second half Morocco doubled their lead when Khalid Boutaib found his second goal with a neat finish, 2-0.
The icing on the cake was Khalid Boutaib’s third goal in the 72nd minute which handed Morocco a comfortable 3-0 win.
Morocco will now face Cote d’Ivoire in their final 2018 World Cup qualifier in November with the winner of that match heading to the showpiece in Russia.
Gabon will take on Mali in a dead rubber, but pride will be on the line for both nations.
Morocco (1) 3 (Khalid Boutaib 38’, 55’ + 72’)
Gabon (0) 0
Morocco: Munir, Amrabat (Harit 90’), Belhanda, Benatia (Banoun 81’), Boussoufa, Boutaib (Bouhaddouz 81’), Dirar, El Ahmadi, Hakimi, Saiss, Ziyech.
Gabon: Bitseki, Aubameyang, Bouanga (Nzembi 85’), Ecuele, Lemina, Meye Me Ndong, Ndong, Nzambe, Appindangoye, Tandjigora, Wachter.