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Morocco Beat Mali To Defend CHAN Title

Morocco retained their African Nations Championship title with a 2-0 victory over Mali at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday.

This winning result means Morocco have become the first team to defend their African Nations Championship while Mali finished runners-up for the second time in the continental competition.

Mali were on the back foot right from the get go when Soufiane Rahimi threatened the goal on 10 minutes following a free-kick from Yahya Jarbane, but the Eagles shot-stopper Djigui Diarra thwarted the attempt.

Moussa Ballo failed to put Mali ahead four minutes later when he blazed over the top from close range following a goal-mouth scramble from an inviting delivery inside the area.

Morocco squandered a glorious chance in the 26th minute when Ayoub El-Kaabi scooped his effort over the crossbar from six-yards out with the goal at his mercy.

The Atlas Lions registered their third effort on target in the 32nd minute when Abdeillah Hafidi forced Diarra into a low save with a stinging effort from 20-yards out.

Despite Morocco edging the possession statistics in the first half, it was the Malians who created the better openings, although they failed to convert.

Mali were slow off the mark in the second half as the Atlas Lions leaned towards a cushion from impressive but well drilled variations which had the visitors riddled with uncertainty.

Within the 60th minute, Mali left Morocco off the hook when Soufiane Rahimi curled inches wide after creating space from a tight angle whilst Noah Sadaoui lashed over the top from afar.

Omar Namsaoui came to Morocco’s rescue shortly after the hour mark, as the defender pulled off a fine clearance off the line.

It was the Moroccans broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when Boutouil nodded a powerful header from Namsaoui’s corner kick from the right that beat goalkeeper Diarra to break the deadlock.

Mali went even closer in the 73rd minute when Moussa Koffi rattled the upright with a fine glancing header from six-yards out.

Issiaka Samake was presented with a chance to reduce the deficit two minutes later but the midfielder failed beat Seidu from close range

The Atlas Lions extended their lead on the 79th minute when El Kaabi placed Mohammed Ali’s corner into the back of the net to spark wild celebrations from the bench of the North Africans bench.

Bangaly Sanogo should have given the Eagles a consolation in the 82nd minute when a swift passing move saw him unmarked ten yards out, but he was superbly denied from close range by Zniti.

Mali suffered a massive blow ten minutes later when they were reduced to ten men following a second yellow card for Issa Samake.

Despite being one man down, the Eagles continued to push forward in the final five minutes, but Morocco defended stoutly and managed to defend their African Nations Championship title.

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