The 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) got off to a flying start in Casablanca on Saturday night as hosts Morocco claimed an emphatic 4-0 win over Mauritania.
The Atlas Lions had to be patient at the Stade Mohamed V, but after breaking the deadlock through Ayoub El Kaabi midway through the second half they were on the path for a comprehensive victory.
Morocco dominated from the get-go and ‘Les Mourabitounes’ needed a couple of good interventions from defenders Sidi Mohamed Bilal and Mohamed Wade to keep the hosts at bay.
The Atlas Lions were also guilty of spurning good chances through the first half, with Abdelilah Hafidi heading wide after Mauritania goalkeeper Souleimane Brahim had palmed a cross into his path, while Ayoub El Kaabi also struck a low effort just wide of the mark.
Brahim made a couple of fine saves in the opening minutes of the second half, but he was helpless to deny El Kaabi in the 66th minute, as the striker ran onto a touch from Ismail El Haddad before coolly sending a shot beyond the ‘keeper.
Six minutes later El Haddad made it 2-0 after cutting inside from the right and sending a shot into the net via the hand of the Mauritania gloves-man, while El Kaabi netted his second in the 80th with a well-placed shot.
There was still time in the dying minutes for Morocco to add a fourth as substitute Achraf Bencharki showed his class by rounding the ‘keeper before scooping home a shot from a tight angle to complete the scoring.
The teams will be in action again on January 17, with Morocco facing Guinea, while Mauritania will take on Sudan.
Morocco (0) 4 (Ayoub El Kaabi 66’ 80’, Ismail El Haddad 72’, Achraf Bencharki 90+2’)
Morocco: 1. Anas Zniti, 4. Nayef Aguerd, 13. Badr Benoun (6. Badr Boulahroud 87’), 16. Mohamed Nahiri, 20. Abdeljalil Jbira, 7. Zakaria Hadraf (17. Achraf Bencharki 75’), 8. Salaheddine Saidi, 19. El Mehdi Barrahma, 18. Abdelilah Hafidi, 11. Ismail El Haddad, 9. Ayoub El Kaabi (10. Walid El Karti 82’)
Mauritania: 1. Souleimane Brahim, 4. Mohamed Wade, 5. Sidi Mohamed Bilal, 6. Lemrabot El Hacen, 15. Oumare Mangane, 11. Moulayeahmed Khalil, 17. Moussa Baghayoko, 20. Samba Moussa (7. Hemeya Tanjy 77’), 21. Abdou Mbark El Id (18. Abdoulaye Sileye 73’), 23. Abdoulaye Gaye, 19. Elycheikh Samba El Voullany (9. Karamokho Traore 61’)