AfCON: Morocco qualifies Côte d’Ivoire for the last 16

Thanks to Morocco’s 1-0 victory over Zambia on Wednesday, Côte d’Ivoire, 3rd in their group (3 points), qualified for the last 16 of the CAN in extremis. The host nation will face Senegal on Monday (9 p.m.).

The miracle has happened. The streets of Abidjan can rejoice. On Monday evening, at the end of the rout against Equatorial Guinea (0-4), very few still imagined that the Elephants would qualify. And yet…

On Wednesday evening, Côte d’Ivoire, who finished 3rd in their group (3 points), qualified for the Round of 8. A scenario made possible by Morocco’s 1-0 victory over Zambia. Côte d’Ivoire, who had a turbulent time with the resignation of their French coach Jean Louis Gasset on Wednesday, face a huge challenge in the Round of 8, when they take on Senegal on Monday (9pm).

The final evening of the CAN group phase did not hold the same emotions as Tuesday night’s Cameroon and Algeria scenarios. Morocco (1st, 7 points) were in complete control, buoyed in the first half by an impressive duo of Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal, and ended the first phase with a logical 1-0 victory over Zambia. The victory was achieved in a controlled scenario. Buoyed by an inspired Hakim Ziyech (who was forced off at half-time), the Moroccans took just a few minutes to get the better of a limited Zambia.

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Two Zambian attempts stun Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire

While Nayef Aguerd came close to opening the scoring following a cross from Galatasaray’s attacking midfielder (35th), it wasn’t until the 38th minute that the Atlas Lions opened the scoring. Sofiane Boufal’s breakaway ball was volleyed in by Achraf Hakimi and pushed into the net by Hakim Ziyech (1-0, 40th).

In a second half without rhythm, the Moroccans lacked control at times. Zambian striker Lameck Banda came close to beating Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou with a curled shot (59th). Two long-range efforts from Lubambo Musonda and Emmanuel Banda had the Moroccan and Ivorian fans on their feet (79th, 85th). Amine Adli (90th +2), who came on at half-time, lost his duel and was unable to give the Ivorians a greater advantage.

Morocco will face South Africa in the Round of 8 on Tuesday (9pm). Zambia, for its part, has been eliminated. In the other match, the DRC and Tanzania played out an insipid 0-0 draw. The Democratic Republic of Congo finished 2nd in Group F (3 points) and will face Egypt in the Round of 8 on Sunday (9pm).

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