Morocco cruised to an emphatic 4-0 win over Mauritania in the opening match of Chan 2018 at Stade Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca on Saturday night.
The Atlas Lions had to be patient, but after breaking the deadlock through Ayoub El Kaabi midway through the second half they were on the path for a huge win.
The hosts were the better side in the opening Group ‘A’ fixture as they dominated Mauritania and it needed the good defending from Sidi Mohamed Bilal and Mohamed Wade to keep them at bay.
The Atlas Lions were also guilty of spurning good chances through the first half; with Abdelilah Hafidi heading wide after Mauritania goalkeeper Souleimane Brahim had palmed a cross into his path, while Ayoub El Kaabi also struck a low effort just wide of the mark.
Morocco then took a deserved lead in the 66th minute when El Kaabi connected home a cross from El Haddad. The goal some how rejuvenated the home team as El Haddad made it 2-0 after cutting inside from the right to beat keeper Brahim with a low shot.
Kaabi then scored his second of the night but third for Morocco in the 80th minute after stabbing home a loose ball from close range. Morocco still could afford time to round up the game when substitute Achraf Bencharki showed his class by rounding the ‘keeper before slashing hime from a tight angle.
The teams will be in action again on January 17, with Morocco facing Guinea, while Mauritania will take on Sudan.
Morocco starting XI: 1. Anas Zniti, 4. Nayef Aguerd, 13. Badr Benoun (6. Badr Boulahroud 87’), 16. Mohamed Nahiri, 20. Abdeljalil Jbira, 7. Zakaria Hadraf (17. Achraf Bencharki 75’), 8. Salaheddine Saidi, 19. El Mehdi Barrahma, 18. Abdelilah Hafidi, 11. Ismail El Haddad, 9. Ayoub El Kaabi (10. Walid El Karti 82’).
Mauritania starting XI: 1. Souleimane Brahim, 4. Mohamed Wade, 5. Sidi Mohamed Bilal, 6. Lemrabot El Hacen, 15. Oumare Mangane, 11. Moulayeahmed Khalil, 17. Moussa Baghayoko, 20. Samba Moussa (7. Hemeya Tanjy 77’), 21. Abdou Mbark El Id (18. Abdoulaye Sileye 73’), 23. Abdoulaye Gaye, 19. Elycheikh Samba El Voullany (9. Karamokho Traore 61’).