Morocco’s coach Said Chiba has paid glowing tribute to his players for executing their tactical plan to the latter, as they edged out Mali 6-5 on post-match penalties in Constantine on Sunday to qualify for the final of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The Atlas Cubs held on for a barren draw in regulation time, shutting out a potent Malian attack, before goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil’s heroics saw them triumph on penalties.
“We knew that we were going into a difficult game and we needed to manage it well and to ensure Mali, which is a very high-level team, does not find its rhythm and channels to attack. We played compact as to how we had planned,” the coach noted.
He added; “We were patient and very organized and this was the only solution for us to win. We executed our plan really well and these players have demonstrated a lot of tactical discipline beyond their age.”
Morocco have had one of the meanest defenses in the tournament so far, and they have only conceded twice, against Zambia, in their last Group B match in which they changed almost the entire team as qualification to the quarter final was already confirmed.
Morocco have made it to the final for the first time ever, as their best performance prior to this was a fourth-place finish when they hosted the tournament in 2013.
“I am proud of the players and proud of this team. We have made everyone at home proud and now we hope for one more beautiful story,” Chiba added.
Morocco switch attention to next Friday’s finale when they take on Senegal, who have also qualified into the final for the first time ever.