Thursday, June 20, 2024

Morocco Stun Algeria In Constantine, Earn U17 World Cup Slot

Zakaria Ouazane scored a goal in either half with Adam Chakir adding a late third as Morocco beat hosts Algeria 3-0 in the quarter finals of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), stunning a fully packed Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine and send the Atlas Cubs to the FIFA World Cup.

Algeria enjoyed brilliant support with the Constantine fans filling the stadium to the rafters and raising their voices to deafening decibels, but it was a tactically disciplined Moroccan side that went off with victory and a place in the last four.

Ouazane broke the deadlock after 28 minutes when he headed into the bottom right after a cross from Ayman Ennair. The latter had done well to pickpocket Younes Badani of the ball on the right before curling in a cross for the lanky Ouazane to nod home.

Before the goal, it had been a tightly contested duel in the North African derby. Algeria had the only shot on target thus far, Shain Chetioui having a curling freekick fly straight to the keeper’s arms.

Morocco’s best chance before their goal was in the 20th minute when Chakir drove a shot from almost 35 yards out and it dinked inches over the bar.

After scoring, Morocco played with more confidence, keeping possession and moving up and down the field as a block. They were however almost caught on the counter in the 35th minute.

From a corner, the ball was cleared to Moselm Anatouf’s path, the latter heading it into the run of strike partner Ziad Mohamed.

However, Morocco keeper Taha Benrhozil was quick off his line, making his body big at the edge of the box and blocking the effort one on one.

At the stroke of halftime, Anatouf who had been kept quiet all game had a sniff at goal with a shot on the turn, but the keeper made a good save.

In the second half, Morocco needed just 12 minutes to double their tally, Abdel Hamid Maali sending Ouazane through with a peach of a ball, the latter running between the two central defenders to shoot low for his brace.

With two goals and a mountain to climb, Algeria tried to find new solutions and they pulled out midfielder Younes Benali for forward Djibril Bahlouli to spice up things upfront.

But, they couldn’t create much with their star man Anatouf kept in close guard by Abdelhamid AIt Boudlal whenever he moved.

Morocco put the icing on the cake and sent the stadium into pindrop silence with the third goal in the 86th minute, Chakir shooting brilliantly on the half volley from a cross on the right.

The goal killed off the Algerian fight as they saw no way of turning the game around with four minutes of regulation time and an additional five.

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