The Atlas Lions held the fans spellbound until the end. Morocco validates its ticket for the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations by winning against Malawi (2-1) thanks to a goal from Youssef En-Nesyri and a missile from Achraf Hakimi.
It was far from over for Vahid Halilhodzic’s men who were overtaken by Malawi from the start of the match. In the 7th minute, the opponents opened the scoring after a left lane recovery from Francisco Madinga. John Banda quickly finds Gabadinho Mhango in front of him. This one, more than thirty meters from the goal, triggers a sudden and super-powerful strike which pierces Yassine Bounou.
A bad start for the national team which is trying somehow to rectify the situation, especially from Imran Louza or Youssef En-Nesyri.
In the 20th minute, the gap is still found on the right side with Achraf Hakimi who centers on the ground in the area. Micium Mhone, while throwing himself, does not manage to get the leather out, and Youssef En-Nesyri strikes while pivoting, without finding the frame.
Monstrous since the start of the game by winning all his duels, Soufiane Boufal misses many chances but the situation finally unblocks in the last minutes of the 1st half thanks to Youssef En-Nesyri (45 + 2′) who flies higher than everyone else to smack a mighty helmet blast.
The second half begins in a palpable tension for Vahid’s men who have no room for error. The selection coach chooses to bring in Ryan Mmmae in place of Ayoub El Kaabi.
It took about thirty minutes to deliver the Lions thanks to the thunderous Achraf Hakimi who scored (again) a sumptuous free kick which did not fail to react to his PSG teammate, Kylian Mbappé who described him as “the best right-back in the world”.
BEST RB IN THE WORLD.
GOOD NIGHT GUYS. 👋🏽
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 25, 2022
The free kick is however distant, but the Parisian side triggers a mine above the wall which cleans the right skylight of Charles Thomu. A world-class player who saves his family fifteen minutes from the end.
I give you the incredible goal of hakimi 🇲🇦🇲🇦🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/UGpjBeBj98
– at. (@ademYz_) January 25, 2022
Determined to win the Lions have tried their luck many times to afford a third jewel but in vain. Fans will remember a masterclass from Achraf Hakimi which confirms his status as a world player. The young talent was also voted man of the match.
The national team finally finds the joys of qualifying for the quarter-finals, to the delight of Vahid Halilhodzic who did not fail to express his pride at the end of the game, surrounded by his players, Hakimi and Boufal, authors of XXL performances.