Morocco off the mark in Group B

Morocco off the mark in Group B
Faycal Fajr EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday Sep 09, 2018. 00:02

Morocco have picked up their first three points in Group B of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after they defeated Malawi 3-0 at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Saturday night.

The result sees the Atlas Lions move to second place on three points, taking over the position from the Flames (who also have three points) on head-to-head record. Cameroon lead the pool on four points after they drew 1-1 away to bottom-of-the-log Comoros earlier in the day.

Morocco got off to a flyer and claimed the lead in just the third minute, with Ajax star midfielder Hakim Ziyech powering into space down the left before beating Malawi goalkeeper Charles Swini with a low shot.

The Atlas Lions ended the first half in the same way they started it: finding the back of the net. This time Youssef En-Nesyri was the goal scorer, turning home an assist from Achraf Hakimi in the 42nd minute to see his side go 2-0 up.

The second half saw the North Africans continue their dominance, with Nordin Amrabat denied a strong claim for a penalty before seeing a shot on goal well saved by Swini just before the hour mark.

There was also a debut for Dutch-born defender Noussair Mazraoui, who replaced Nabil Dirar with just under 20 minutes to play. The right-back was courted by the Netherlands before picking Morocco over the country of his birth.

Morocco added to their advantage in the 78th minute, with En-Nesyri completing his brace with a powerful shot which burst through the goalkeeper’s arms to wrap up the scoring at 3-0.

The teams will return to AFCON qualifying action next month with double-header clashes. The Atlas Lions will face island minnows Comoros, while Malawi face 2019 tournament hosts Cameroon.

Morocco (2) 3 (Ziyech 3’, En-Nesyri 42’ 78’)
Malawi 0

Morocco: Bounou, Dirar (Mazraoui 73’), Bennasser, Saiss, Hakimi, Fajr, El Ahmadi, Amrabat, Belhanda, Ziyech, En-Nesyri

Malawi: Swini, Chembezi, Sanudi, Mzava, Sambani, Phiri, F. Banda, J. Banda, Manyozo, Mbulu, Mhango

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