U-23 AFCON: Morocco wins the first title following a slim victory over its counterpart, Egypt.
Young Atlas Lions claimed their maiden U-23 African Cup of Nations after a 2-1 triumph over 10-man Egypt in the final held at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Morocco.
Pyramids defender Mahmoud, scored the first goal of the encounter, aiding Egypt to an easy lead just 10 minutes into the game. Unfortunately, for the Egyptian, 8 minutes later, he was shown the red card, creating massive loopholes and more pressure on the defense line of the young Pharaohs.
In just 8 minutes to end the first half, 21 years old Toulouse forward Yanis Begraoui leveled the game at 1-1. Egypt avoided errors that could lead to more goals for the remainder of the first half after their horrendous red card. They successfully contained surplus attacking threats from the host and held upon the 1-1 score until full-time.
10-man Egypt, desiring for a penalty shoot to decide the blockbuster final held the host nation for an extra time of 30 minutes. In the 105+4 minutes, Oussama Targhalline scored the winning goal for Morocco, who won the fierce final for the host after 120 minutes of strenuous effort from both sides.
Before the final, Mali defeated Guinea in a penalty shoot-out to earn the Bronze medal for themselves.
The two finalists have secured a spot for themselves in the next year’s Olympic Games which will be held in Paris, France alongside Mali who finished in the third spot. Guinea can earn the fourth African spot should they secure a win in a playoff against a yet-to-be-known Asian opposition.
Egypt Ibrahim Adel, who has now been linked to Nordsjælland and Anderlecht, was voted as the Best Player of the Tournament – he also bagged the Mann of the Match award last night.
Morocco’s Abdessamad Ezzalzouli with three goals, was the tournament’s Top Scorer.
Egypt goalkeeper Hamza Alaa received the award for the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament.
Guinea was voted as the Fair Play team of the tournament