Gabon and Morocco progress further after their tie in Yaounde
Morocco drew 2-2 with Gabon in Yaounde in one of the best games of the Africa Cup of Nations so far as both sides progressed from Group C.
The Atlas Lions fell behind within the half as Gabon’s Jim Allevinah softened past the onrushing keeper.
Morocco’ equaliser from the penalty spot by Sofiane Boufal after seventy-four minutes sparked an exciting finale.
First, Gabon forced Nayef Aguerd into scoring a goal before Achraf Hakimi curled home a free-kick.
Morocco will stay in the Cameroonian capital for their next game, against the best third-placed side from either cgroups A, B or F, on twenty-five January.
Gabon, meanwhile, will face Burkina Faso in Limbe as each side kick off the round of sixteen on Sunday twenty-three January.
Gabon impress in yaounde
Having exited within the group stage as hosts in 2017 and incomprehensible the 2019 finals altogether, Gabon were massively spectacular once reaching the knock-out stage for under the second time in the past twenty-five years.
They took the game to a Moroccan team who were reinvigorated six players from the team that secured qualification for the knock-outs when beating Comoros 2-0 last time out.
Chance upon Chance came their way with Aaron Boupendza, who was spirited throughout, toe-poking wide simply once the 30 minutes when it looked easier to hit the target.
Seven minutes before the break, Guelor Kanga hit a blistering free-kick from forty yards that forced reserve keeper Monir El Kajoui to tip over the bar – even as he had to from the ensuing corner once denying Lloyd Palun’ firm header with a fine stop.
Despite missing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had to be required to social media to deny reports he had been out drinking prior to being sent back to England for checks on heart lesions seemingly developed after a Covid infection, Gabon continued to threaten.
Allevinah nearly scored one of the goals of any Nations Cup once meeting a deep cross from a good angle to fire against the bar with a strike that brought back reminiscences of Marco van Basten’ stunning 1988 European Championship final goal.
Morocco secures top spot
Morocco had enjoyed the bigger possession within the half while not forcing a shot on target, however, this modified as a worried-looking Atlas Lions coach Vahid Halilhodzic rang the changes.
The increased threat brought a penalty converted by Boufal once he had won the spot-kick, though it appeared that Andre Biyogo Poko had won the ball.
After video assistant referee Janny Sikazwe, who was back after reported heatstroke throughout his unfortunate show when processing for full-time early in the Tunisia-Mali game, failed to question the decision, Morocco was back in the game.
Seconds later, Boupendza flashed a strike past the post before he then ran off in wild celebration to the hordes of Gabonese fans, jumping the advertising boards as he did so, once he pressured Aguerd into turning home Allevinah’ smart cut-back 9 minutes from time.
Gabon was top of Group C for the second time on the night just for Biyogo Poko to concede another set-piece, that Paris Saint-Germain star Hakimi converted with a spellbinding free-kick that left Gabon’ goalkeeper grasping thin air.
It absolutely was a fitting finish to an exciting game as Group C delivered goals aplenty to a Nations Cup criticised for a scarcity of them, and ensured that Morocco – trying to succeed in the ultimate for the first time since finishing runners-up in 2004 – proceed into the same half of the draw as hosts Cameroon.