19 January 2013

Angola/Morocco: Another Football Stalemate in Joburg

Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images-Stanbic
Angola, in red in action in a previous Afcon tournament.

Angola and Morocco played to a goalless draw in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations opener at Soccer City on Saturday night.

It was the second successive stalemate of the day, which leaves the tournament still awaiting its first goal after hosts South Africa and Cape Verde could not conjure one either earlier in the evening.

The match was a game of two halves in many ways, Morocco controlling the first period, and Angola coming back strongly in the second. In the end the latter really should have won it, spurning a number of excellent chances late on.

Angolan defender Mingo Bille forced a decent save out of Morocco’s Nadir Lamyaghri, who had to grab the ball at the second attempt.

From then on in it was all the north Africans in the opening period, Oussama Assaidi having perhaps their best chances as he jinxed through the box, but fired over from an acute angle.

Winger Nordin Amrabat was a constant threat with his trickery and pace on the ball, while Mounir El Hamdaoui also forced a fine finger-tip save from Angolan keeper Lama.

But the Moroccans appeared to battle in the second period, perhaps the altitude affecting their game as they battled to find their passing range.

That gave Angola a sniff and an excellent opportunity to find a winner, especially late in the game.

They should have been ahead when Lamyaghri dropped a routine cross, but substitute Guilherme Afonso could only toe-poke the ball agonisingly wide of goal.

Manucho then had two chances for his side, the first he put wide of goal when the ball broke lose to him 18 yards out. He should have hit the target at least.

The second was an even simpler opportunity. Mateus did brilliantly to get his cross in from the right, but with Manucho and Afonso going for the same ball, it was the former who again failed to hit the target, this time from inside the six-yard box.

Mateus had a rasping shot of his own in the dying minutes, but it was too close to Lamyaghri and the keeper was able to save.

These sides now look forward to their next matches, with Angola to take on hosts South Africa, while Morocco meet Cape Verde. Both games are in Durban.

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