By Simeon OSAJIE
Morocco surpassed Nigeria Golden Eagles in Group B of the 2023 CAF U17 Africa Cup of Nations following their impressive 2-0 win over South Africa at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui in Constantine on Sunday evening.
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets had earlier claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Zambia at the same venue to sit top of the group standings.
Favour Daniel’s 76th-minute finish was all the two-time Afcon winners needed to get the better of the Junior Chipolopolo and begin their Algerian adventure on a winning note.
However, two second-half goals from centre-back Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal and substitute Adam Hanin propelled the young Atlas Lions past the South Africans to the summit of Group B.
In truth, there was not much to separate the two sides for most of the encounter until the referee spotted a handball incident inside the South African box and awarded Morocco a penalty in the 73rd minute.
Defender Ait Boudlal showed the composure of an attacker in smashing his spot-kick into the bottom left corner, with the keeper going the wrong way, to hand the North Africans the lead.
It was two-nil ten minutes later after Hanin finished expertly following a defensive mistake from South Africa’s goalkeeper, Kyle Ethan Jansen.
On Wednesday, May 3, Morocco will test their credentials against Nigeria on matchday two of the Championship, also at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui.
A win for the Golden Eaglets will see them retake the lead in Group and qualify for the quarterfinals of Algeria 2023.