The Atlas Lions of Morocco began their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group D campaign with a 1-0 victory over Namibia at the Al Salam Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The Atlas Lions got off to a bright start as they applied some pressure on the Brave Warriors’ defence led by England-based defender Ryan Nyambe.
Namibia goalkeeper Llyod Kazapua was called into action 10 minutes into the match and he produced a fine finger-tipping save to keep out Nabil Dirar’s long-range shot.
Morocco’s star player Hakim Ziyech then unleashed two shots which missed the target as the 1976 AFCON champions pushed for the opening goal.
The Brave Warriors defence was looking solid and impenetrable which forced the Atlas Lions to shoot from distance.
Ajax Amsterdam playmaker Ziyech pulled the trigger from range in the 35th minute and Kazapua was well-positioned to make a save.
The score was 0-0 at the interval with Namibia having frustrated Morocco in the first-half.
The Brave Warriors continued to frustrate the Atlas Lions attackers, who were unable to seriously test Kazapua in the Namibia goal-posts.
Just before the hour-mark, Morocco head coach Herve Renard decided to introduce attacker Sofiane Boufal, who is on the books of English Premier League side Southampton.
The skillful winger tried to make an immediate impact when he unleashed a shot from the edge of the Namibia box, but Kazapua produced another great save.
Pressure mounted on the Namibia defence and the Moroccans were unfortunate not to score when Ziyech’s deflected shot was brilliantly cleared away by Kazapua in the 71st minute.
Renard’s charges never lost hope and their pressure paid off as Itamunua Keimuine scored an own-goal from Ziyechi’s free kick in the 89th minute to seal Morocco’s victory over Namibia.