HomeSportMorocco challenges Senegal, a first star in sight

Morocco challenges Senegal, a first star in sight

The Moroccan under-17 football team will face its Senegalese counterpart on Friday evening in Algiers (10:00 p.m.) in the final of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) in the category, with the stated objective for the nationals to win their first African star.

Said Chiba’s men, who are now thinking big after having validated their ticket for the final phase of the World Cup-2023, dream of registering their name among the winners of the continental title, just like Senegal who has never lifted this trophy.

The Moroccan players, who showed an iron will to defend their chances in this competition to the end, especially during the semi-finals which they only reached after the penalty shoot-out goal against Mali (6-5, 0-0 regular time), must rely on flawless tactical discipline, an impassable defensive line and a reassuring goalkeeper.

Indeed, Moroccan goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil has kept a clean sheet four times in four appearances (he has yet to concede a goal), while Senegal’s Serigne Diouf has made four clean sheets in five games.

Moroccan players, aware of the stakes of this final which will be followed by several recruiters and players’ agents, must fight a merciless battle in order to return to the country with the Cup in their pocket.

The winner of this final will become the 9th different team to win the title, joining Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria.

A win for the nationals, the third North African side to make the final, after Algeria in 2009 and Egypt in 1997, would see them become the second North African team to win the title, after Egypt.

In addition, it is the first time that two teams who have never won the competition meet in the final, since Mali beat South Africa in 2015.

In the opposing camp, Senegalese football wants to continue its raid on continental titles and win a 4th African crown. The Senegalese are currently holders of the Africa Cup of Nations, the African Nations Championship for local players and the Africa Cup of Nations U20. Morocco managed to score 7 goals in the current finals and conceded two. Of all the teams to have played at least four games during the tournament, only Mali (0) and Senegal (1) have conceded fewer.

Before reaching the semi-finals, the two teams had delivered relatively serene performances. Senegal won all their group matches (1-0 against Congo, 0-3 against Algeria and 0-3 against Somalia) before overcoming South Africa in the quarter-finals (5-0) . At the four aces, they were joined in the score by Burkina Faso when they had opened the scoring. In the penalty shootout, they won 6-5.

The Moroccan team also performed well in the pools (2-0 against South Africa and 1-0 against Nigeria) against a defeat against Zambia (2-1) in the third match. In the quarter-finals, in the 100% North African derby against the host country, the Lionceaux de l’Atlas easily won (3-0).

Ultimately, the feat of the Moroccan selection A at the Qatar-2022 World Cup gave the La to the other categories, insofar as the national teams seem to have acquired a game identity of their own. Tactical discipline, defensive solidity and opportunistic exploitation of the slightest errors, despite the domination of the opponent, this is the magic recipe that now allows Moroccan football to reign on the continental scene.



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