Pre-tournament favourites Morocco began their AFCON with a easy 3-0 victory over Tanzania in Group F. Tanzania were forced to play the last 20 minutes of the match with 10 men after Tanzania Novatus Miroshi was sent off.
Morocco opened the scoring in the 30th minute when Romain Saiss struck a swerving Hakim Ziyech free-kick past the Tanzanian keeper. It wasn’t until late in the second half that Morocco were able to add to their lead. First, with a great finish by Azzedine Ounahi and then a cross from Achraf Hakimi which was converted by Youssef En-Nesyri.
Tanzania, on their third appearance at the AFCON, are still awaiting their first victory, They struggled to find any rhythm against the Moroccan defense and only managed 2 shots on goal.
Morocco will likely face a much harder test in their next match on Sunday against DR Congo. With their comprehensive win against Tanzania they look like almost a sure-in for the knockout stage.
Morocco won their only AFCON title in 1976 but are the team in form after their historic run to the semi-finals at the 2022 World Cup. Their success in Qatar against the teams such as Belgium, Spain and Portugal came as a result of counter-attacking. If they plan to have similar success in AFCON they may however need to start playing on the front foot against lower-ranked opponents.
Namibia Shock Tunisia, 1-0
In other AFCON news, massive underdogs Namibia shocked former champions Tunisia with a 1-0 win on Tuesday. The match was won in the 88th-minute from a Deon Hotto header which met the back of the net.
Namibia are ranked 115th in the world according to FIFA and were without a victory in any of their previous nine Afcon matches. Tunisia, the 2004 champions, are 87 places above Namibia in FIFA standings.
The result means that Namibia are currently second in the table on goal difference following Mali’s 2-0 win over South Africa in Group E. If they can pull off another victory in their next two matchups they should be able to secure themselves a place in the knockout stage. Next up will be South Africa on Sunday.
Tunisia will likely need to win both of their two remaining matches to make it through. They will return to action against Mali on Saturday (20:00 GMT).
Angola Equalize Late to Draw Algeria, 1-1
Former Africa Cup of Nations champions Algeria were left frustrated in their opener this year, as they were held by Angola to a 1-1 draw. The result extended Algeria’s winless streak in AFCON since the 2019 finals, when they were winners.
Algeria controlled the ball most of the match, scoring 18 minutes in as Baghdad Bounedjah volleyed Youcef Belaïli’s skyed ball past the Angolan keeper. Bounedjah almost scored again with a brilliant overhead kick but the offside flag rescued Angola.
Angola was saved in the second half when a penalty kick was awarded to Mabululu who was fouled in the box by Nabil Bentaleb. Mabululu went on to convert the spot kick and tie up the game at 1-1 which was the final score.
The Algerian team will next face Burkina Faso who won their opener against Mauritania 1-0. The team will be looking to break their winless run and get themselves in a position to make the knockout stage.
Mali 2-0 Win Over South Africa
Two quick fire goals by Mali secured victory in the team’s opener against South Africa on Tuesday. Mali dominated a vast majority of the game but a spirited effort by the South Africans held the match close. The two teams remained scoreless after the first half.
The deadlock didn’t last long in the second half however, as in the space of seven minutes Mali was able to score two quick-fire goals.The first was a tap in goal by captain Hamari Traore after Sekou Keita hit the crossbar with a free-kick. The second from Lassine Sinayoko, who finished in style after South Africa turned over the ball in their backfield.
Mali will likely need to get one more win to ensure a place in the knockouts. South Africa needs to beat Namibia in their next encounter to have any chance of advancing.