AFCON 2017: Morocco comes back in clash with Togo
The second matchday of Group B in the African Cup of Nations arranged a true battle between Morocco and Togo. After losing to the Democratic Republic of Congo 0-1 in the first game, the Atlas’ Lions had to win against Emmanuel Adebayor and his friends from Togo, in order to keep their chances in the competition. And what a game it was.
The match kicked off and it took Togo only four minutes to score. A perfect counter attack found Dossevi alone in front of Mounir and he finished with a cool touch from the right side of the box. What a bombastic start for the Togolese team!
Herve Renard’s decision to open with three players on the defensive line seemed to hurt Morocco. Togo attacked, and Adebayor almost scored another one after 11 minutes.
Before the Moroccans let the result bring them down, they found their equalizer. Da Costa interrupted Kossi Agassa, Togo’s keeper, in a corner kick by Fajr, and Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball in.
The goal encouraged Morocco to attack in rage. After another five minutes it paid off. Saiss headed a free kick by Fajr straight into the net and the Lions went one goal up – 2-1. Romain Saiss, dedicated his first ever goal for the Moroccan national team, to his grandfather.
Morocco did not ‘park the bus’ and neither did Togo. The Sparrows attacked back. Adebayor and Laba with two chances almost equalized the result, but Mounir was focused on goal.
Nabil Dirar almost made it 3-1 to Morocco, after an irresponsible move by Agassa, but his header ball went out.
Fajr, Bouhaddouz, Bousouffa and Dirar kept attempting to score the third one for Morocco. Togo had to defend with all their players. Adebayor fought hard and cleared the balls one after the other.
The first half ended after a few more chances of the Moroccans, who earned their confidence back after their horrific start for the tournament and match.
The second half opened in the exact same pace the first one ended – fast and attractive. The poor defences continued to perform, and the game enjoyed varied amounts of chances. Both sides enjoyed the game and the chances were coming and going in both parts of the pitch.
Mendyl, Morocco’s left back, burnt the flank and looked for his friends inside the box. Togo, for their part, did not give up, and Adebayor almost scored in an amazing jump and powerful header but the ball went wide.
In the 72nd minute, Moroccan substitute, 19-years-old En-Nesyir scored the third for Morocco. A decisive counter attack concluded with his kick from 18 metres, which rocked the left side of Kossi Agassa’s goal. 3-1 to Maghrebiens! A horrible reaction and position by the Togolese goalie.
Eight minutes was given for the stoppage time, during which Aiyte almost brought Togo back to the match, but missed by a few centimetres a brilliant chance in a counter attack. The Togolese team, who fought until the final moment of the match, tried to save its AFCON campaign, but couldn’t do so.
Bouhaddouz was subbed and enjoyed a standing ovation, and the game was all over – Morocco 3, Togo 1, in a great evening of African football.
The Moroccans are now in a good position for qualifying for the next round, will have a ‘be or not to be’ battle against reigning champions the Ivory Coast.