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Football

Morocco, Senegal secure perfect start at AFCON 2019

Morocco are on the hunt for their second AFCON title. (PHOTOS/Agencies)

AFCON 2019
Sunday, 23-06-2019
-Morocco 1-0 Namibia
-Senegal 2-0 Tanzania

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations continued on Sunday with action from both Group C and D.

In the opening fixture of the day, Morocco required a late own-goal to take care of Namibia.

Striker Litamunua Keimuine was the unfortunate player, putting through his own net with only a minute to play, handing the Atlas Lions a narrow victory.

Keimuine misjudged Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick in the 89th minutes, wrong-footing his goal keeper Lloyd Kazapua.

It was a game which was dominated by the North African side who are eager to impress and may be, secure a first AFCON title since their only, 43 years ago.

Despite having more possession and boosting a squad which featured one of the brightest prospect in world football, in Hakim Ziyech, Morocco struggled to break down Namibia and were consistently limited to speculative efforts.

Nabil Dirar forced Namibia goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua to tip a looping long-range shot over in an uneventful first half, while Nordin Amrabat went down under a challenge by Danzil Haoseb but saw his appeals for a penalty dismissed.

Two-time winning coach Herve Renard’s side were limited to largely long-range attempts against a Namibia side making their first appearance since 2008.

With his side struggling to create chances, Herve Renard introduced Spanish based forward Sofiane Boufal and as soon as the former Southampton man stepped onto the pitch, Morocco breathed a new lease of life.

Boufal forced Kazapua into an immediate low-save but much like the players who started the game, he did not have any better luck.

For Ziyech, he looked lively throughout the afternoon but Namibia had an answer to the questions he asked until the free-kick off which Keimuine put the deciding head.

Namibia who came into the match as over whelming under-dogs will go back to their hotel rooms with their heads held high.

The points see Morocco temporarily go top of Group D with Ivory Coast and South Africa squaring off on Monday afternoon.

Next, Morocco face Renard’s former side Ivory Coast on Friday, while Namibia come up against South Africa later on the same day.

In the Group C game played in the evening, Senegal powered past Tanzania 2-0 to also temporarily move top of their group.

After a dominant start to the game, the 2004 finalist took the lead through forwars Balde Keita’s low finish at the near post.

Senegal dominated the game from start to finish.

Four minutes past the hour mark, Krepin Diatta blasted in a second from the edge of the box to hand the Lions of Teranga an advantage that they would hold on until the end.

Even with out the suspended Sadio Mane, Senegal created a handful of chances and their coach-Aliou Cisse will be disappointed they only put two away in the end.

Tanzania, making a first appearance since 1980, had goalkeeper Aishi Manula to thank early on as the 23-year-old twice denied M’Baye Niang in the opening six minutes.

Two minutes after slotting in to the bottom corner, Balde should have added the 2017 quarter-finalists’ second but blazed over from Ismaila Sarr’s cut-back.

Sarr, who consistently troubled Tanzania down the right, had a goal disallowed midway through the first half as Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate was penalised for handball in the build-up.

Manula again came to the rescue for Tanzania after the interval, stretching to guide a Diatta header to safety and smothering an effort from Sarr.

But Senegal were untroubled at the back and Club Brugge midfielder Diatta made the points safe for Cisse’s side with an excellent first-time strike from out side the area.

The other group C game between Algeria and Kenya will be played later on Sunday at 11 pm.

Monday’s fixtures 

– Ivory Coast vs South Africa @5:30pm
-Tunisia vs Angola @8pm
-Mali vs Mauritania @11pm

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