By Babajide Okeowo
Morocco, on Monday defeated Ghana One-nil at the Ahmadou-Ahidjoe Stadium in Yaounde to begin their quest at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a victory.
The only goal of the match was scored by forward Sofiane Boufal scored in the 83rd minute to hand the Atlas Lions their first win at the biennial football tournament in Cameroon.
The Moroccans dominated much of the Group C encounter but could not find a way through. But Boufal, the Angers man, pounced onto a loose ball and fired his nation into the lead. The North Africans were able to hold on for the rest of the game.
With the win, Morocco now sit top of the group pending the outcome of the game between Gabon and Comoros.
Morocco are ranked second and Ghana eighth in Africa and both former champions are considered potential winners of the 24-team tournament.
It is 46 years since Morocco won the Cup of Nations for the only time and the latest campaign began without their best-known player, Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech.
He was dumped from the national squad last year after coach Vahid Halilhodzic labelled the Netherlands-born star a “disruptive influence”.
Morocco started against Ghana with three Premier League players — captain Romain Saiss from Wolves and Watford duo Adam Masina and Imran Louza.
Ghana have won the symbol of African national team supremacy four times, but the last success came 40 years ago in Libya, where teenager Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew sprang to international prominence.