Morocco/Namibia: El Kaabi Makes CHAN History As Morocco Win

Photo: CAF
Nigeria play Angola in the CHAN 2018 quarter-finals.
27 January 2018

Ayoub el Kaabi created African Nations Championship (CHAN) history Saturday with the goal that set up hosts Morocco for a 2-0 victory over Namibia in a one-sided Casablanca quarter-final.

When the 24-year-old netted during the first half it brought his tournament tally to six goals, bettering the five of Zambian Given Singuluma in the first edition nine years ago.

El Kaabi could have two more chances to increase his tally -- a semi-final against Congo Brazzaville or Libya next Wednesday followed by either the final or a third-place play-off.

Unknown outside Morocco before the tournament for home-based footballers kicked off, El Kaabi scored twice against Mauritania and put three past Guinea in group games.

Should he continue to impress, Morocco World Cup coach Herve Renard may be tempted to give him a chance in warm-up matches ahead of the global showpiece in Russia from mid-June.

El Kaabi put the title favourites ahead on 36 minutes when a quickly taken free-kick by Walid el Karti caught the Namibians napping and the leading scorer netted from close range.

Morocco dominated possession and territory and deservedly doubled the lead on 55 minutes when a glancing Salaheddine Saidi header flew into the net after a corner.

Namibia were lucky not to fall further behind at Stade Mohammed V when a Mohammed Nahiri free-kick rebounded off the crossbar with goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua beaten.

Sudan, who finished runners-up behind Morocco in Group A, edged Group B winners Zambia 1-0 later to set up a semi-final showdown with Angola or Nigeria, also next Wednesday.

A route-one goal after 32 minutes settled the outcome in Marrakech with a long clearance by goalkeeper Akram Elhadi nodded by Maaz Gismalla into the path of Saifeldin Bakhit.

The sturdy Sudanese striker went past a Zambian defender and struck the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata into the net.

Plans to introduce VAR (video assistant referee) technology from the quarter-finals were shelved, a Confederation of African Football spokesman said.

He did not give a starting date for VAR, which can assist match officials with goals, straight red cards, penalty and offside decisions and cases of mistaken identity.

Although restricted to footballers playing in their country of birth, Nations Championship matches carry full international status and count toward the monthly FIFA rankings.

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