U-17 AFCON: Morocco edge Nigeria to make quarters

Abdel Hamid Maali’s first half deflected strike was all Morocco needed as they stormed into the quarter finals of the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Nigeria at the Mohamed Hamloui Stadium in Constantine.

Maali struck after only 75 seconds on the clock, a lead that the Atlas Cubs held on to the final whistle to move to six points on top of Group B.

Nigeria did everything right but score, and they will rue their missed chances as they move to a crucial final group match tie against South Africa.

Morocco were clearly hunting for an early goal as they raided the Nigeria box from the start, and they got the much needed goal a minute and 15 seconds into the game when Maali’s curling strike from his left foot took a wicked deflection to wrong-foot the keeper.

Nigeria pinned Morocco into their own half, but the North Africans stuck to their tactical defensive shape, adding numbers at the edge of the box to block any efforts.

Abubakar Abdullahi was presented with a glorious chance when his run into the box was picked out by Emmanuel Michael’s cross, but his touch from close range rose over the bar.

Michael had a go at goal himself from a freekick, but it rose over the bar.

Two minutes to the break, Morocco were almost gifted a second when Jeremiah Olaleke’s short back pass was intercepted by Maali.

The goal scorer squared the ball to Adnane El Ahmer, but he latter fired straight at the keeper unmarked.

In the second half, it was the same story with Nigeria doing all the playing and pinning Morocco, but had no goal to show for it. Favour Daniel had a shot fly across the face of goal, while YahayaLawali’s shot off his marauding runs on the right flew inches over the bar.

Nigeria changed personnel with Light Eke replacing skipper, Prince Williams, upfront in a bid to find new solutions. Eke almost scored with seven minutes left, but his shot from inside the box was saved by the keeper for a corner.

Nigeria threw everything in attack, but could not find the back of the net. – CAFOnline

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