Nabil Dirar of Morocco challenged by Simon Deli of Ivory Coast during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 24 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Tuesday Jan 24, 2017. 23:02
Herve Renard came back to haunt his former team Ivory Coast as Morocco knocked the defending champions out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday night.
Renard’s Atlas Lions defeated the 2015 title winners 1-0 in Oyem in their final Group C match, sealing their progression alongside DR Congo into the quarterfinals.
The Elephants could only manage a third-place finish in the group, condemning them to an early exit from the tournament.
Ivory Coast enjoyed most of the possession early on, but it was Morocco who almost claimed the lead on 25 minutes when Faycal Fajr rattled the crossbar with a shot on goal from a free kick.
The North Africans seemed to come close to a goal again on the half hour mark when Mehdi Benatia saw an effort from a corner kick cleared off the goal line, but the defender had actually used his hand to redirect the ball and was duly booked for his offence.
Ivory Coast’s best chance arrived in the 37th minute when Salomon Kalou showed great vision and technical ability to put Wilfried Zaha into a shooting position, but the English-based attacker was denied by a fine save from Munir Mohand.
The Elephants also hit the woodwork shortly before half time when Kalou got on the end of a flick-on from Wilfried Bony, but his header from a tight angle hit the outside of the post and Mohand appeared to have it covered regardless.
Ivory Coast appeared to have momentum behind them in the second half, but on 64 minutes the Atlas Lions broke the deadlock with a brilliant long-range curler from substitute Rachid Alioui to put one foot in the quarterfinals.
The Elephants experienced only frustration in their attempts to come back into the game, with Renard’s Morocco unyielding in defence to secure a famous victory.
Morocco (0) 1 (Rachid Alioui 64’)
Ivory Coast 0
Morocco: Munir Mohand, Medhi Benatia, Hamza Mendyl, Romain Saïss, Manuel da Costa, Mbark Boussoufa, Faycal Fajr (Mounir Obbadi 83’), Nabil Dirar, Karim El Ahmadi, Aziz Bouhaddouz (Rachid Alioui 42’ [Khalid Boutaib 90+2’]), Youssef En-Nesyri
Ivory Coast: Sylvain Gbohouo, Serge Aurier, Serge Wilfried Kanon, Eric Bailly, Simon Deli, Cheick Doukoure (Jean Seri 52’), Wilfried Zaha (Jonathan Kodja 76’), Franck Kessié (Max Gradel 84’), Geoffroy Serey Die, Wilfried Bony, Salomon Kalou