5 February 2018

Nigeria/Morocco: Host Morocco Crush Home-Based Eagles to Lift CHAN 2018

Photo: CAF
Morocco celebrate in the CHAN 2018 final.

In what appears a repeat of Nigeria's 4-0 defeat in the WAFU Cup final last year in Ghana, the Home-based Eagles were crushed by the same margin by host Morocco in the final of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) played in Casablanca last night.

The Atlas Lions playing before their home fans at the Stade Mohamed V overpowered Eagles, who played most of the second half with just 10 men to join DR Congo, Tunisia and Libya as the only four winners of the competition meant for players plying their trades in the continent.

Morocco gave an early warning of their attacking potency when striker Ayoub El Kaabi headed home from Ismail Haddad's corner kick in the seventh minute, but the goal was correctly ruled out because the ball had passed out of play in its flight.

El Kaabi took centre stage again in the 15th minute when he met Haddad's left-flank cross with an acrobatic overhead kick and rattled Nigeria's crossbar with the effort, underlining the Atlas Lions' early dominance.

Nigeria came into the game a little more as the first half wore on, but the hosts remained dangerous in attack and finally broke the deadlock just before the interval.

A slick move put Abdeljalil Jbira free down the left flank, his pullback from the by-line picked out Zakaria Hadraf and the winger fired a low shot into the back of the net, beating goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye low to his right.

Things went from bad to worse for the Home-based Eagles when Plateau United's Peter Moses Eneji, who was already on a yellow card, scythed down Mohamed Nahiri early in the second half and was sent off for a second caution.

The Atlas Lions duly made the most of their numerical advantage, with Walid El Karti doubling their lead on the hour mark when he headed home on the rebound after Ajiboye saved Haddad's shot, before Hadraf added his second a few minutes later to make it 3-0.

A Morocco win at this tournament wouldn't be complete without a strike from El Kaabi, and the forward duly notched his ninth of the 2018 CHAN when he redirected a shot from Nahiri in the 73rd minute to complete the scoring.

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