AFP Contributor/Getty Images
Morocco kicked off the 2018 African Nations Championship in style with a 4-0 win over Mauritania at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Saturday evening.
The win gives Morocco the perfect start with Group A’s second match set to take place on Sunday as Guinea take on Sudan.
Here’s a look at the early standings and all Sunday’s fixtures.
Group A Standings (Goal Difference)
Morocco 3 (4)
Guinea 0 (0)
Sudan 0 (0)
Mauritania 0 (-4)
Guinea vs. Sudan
Ivory Coast vs. Namibia
Zambia vs. Uganda
Hosts Morocco came into the game as heavy favourites to win against a Mauritania side that was making only their second appearance at the tournament.
Yet Mauritania were largely able to frustrate their more experienced opponents in the first half.
The CAF’s Twitter account gave an overview of the first-half action:
STATS | Check out the first-half stats! #TotalCHAN2018 #MARMTN https://t.co/oOBcphD7NI
It was a different story after the break, as Morocco made their dominance count and opened the scoring after 66 minutes.
Ismail El Haddad supplied an enticing through ball, and Ayoub El Kaabi latched on to it before slotting past goalkeeper Brahim Souleymane.
The hosts then doubled their lead six minutes later, as Souleymane could not keep out El Haddad’s shot from just outside the box.
El Kaabi then grabbed his second of the night with just 10 minutes of normal time remaining as he fired home from close range before Achraf Bencharki grabbed the fourth.
Nick Cavell at the BBC was impressed with Morocco’s final goal of the evening:
NickCavell BBCAfrica @BBC_NickCavell
Great bit of skill by Bencharki – round the keeper to the byline one step back on the pitch and with the outside of his foot flicks the ball nonchalantly into the net. FINAL: #Morocco 4-0 #Mauritania – El Kaabi with two and El Haddad the other scorers.
Meanwhile, African football writer Salim Masoud Said praised Abdelilah Hafidi’s performance:
Salim Masoud Said @salimosaid
Maestro, Mzee, Muhandis, Maalim, Fundi, Crack, call him whatever you like! https://t.co/SG0V8MoDwc
After a slow start, Morocco look to be in pretty good shape and will hope to continue their winning ways in their next match against Guinea on Wednesday.