It was a snatch victory (2-1) for the National U23 Eleven against its Guinean counterpart on behalf of the first day of Group A of the final stages of the CAN in the qualifying category at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Saturday evening at the Moulay Abdellah complex in Rabat, the Olympic EN in front of its public, was obliged to succeed in its introduction in order not to compromise its chances in the rest of the competition, because the qualification in Paris 2024 is far from easy.
It must be said that the foals of Islam Charii started the game badly. A sluggish start in front of a well-organized opponent who knew how to deploy his game without being dangerous, except on a shot intercepted by the Moroccan goalkeeper.
We expected a reaction from the Moroccan selection, but it struggled to produce play, failing to line up passes to destabilize the defense of the team opposite. The latter did not hope for better, especially since just before returning to the locker room for the break, she was able to find the net on a set piece converted by her striker Algassime Bah who plays in the Greek club of Olympiacos.
An opener which certainly came at the wrong time, but fortunately it did not affect the minds of the group who approached the second half with their feet on the floor. The team had to be shaken to show its reaction and especially to see the Ezzalouli and El Khannous duo at work. The few cleverly orchestrated attacks by the Moroccan team would lead to the expected result, and this in two stages on penalties taken by Abdessamad Ezzalezouli, who was also crowned best player of the match.
Before the end of the game, the Moroccan team and public were in a cold sweat after the Guineans’ equalizing goal was refused by the referee for a foul by the striker on the Moroccan keeper.
A short and precious victory for the Atlas Lions summoned to reveal another much more convincing face starting with their outing this Tuesday against Ghana who were to cross swords yesterday with the DR.Congo. Knowing that the protagonists of group B were also to make their appearance on Sunday with matches like Egypt-Niger and Mali-Gabon.
Finally, it should be remembered that the two finalists of this CAN and the team that will finish third will qualify for the Olympic football tournament in Paris. As for the selection that will be ranked fourth, it will have to play a play-off match with a national team representing the Asian continent.