The Moroccan Lions had been as impressive as the Egyptian Pharaohs throughout the tournament, but in the end Morocco prevailed in the final.
Rabat – Morocco’s Atlas Lions have trashed Egypt’s Pharaohs in the final of the AFCON futsal, with the empathicatic 5-0 scoreline defying all predictions of fans and tournament followers who were surely expecting a much tighter contest between the competition’s top two teams.
The Egyptians pharaohs, who topped Group B after impressive displays against Guinea (9-0), Angola (3-0), and Mozambique (3-2) came to the final with a test to honor the team’s illustrious history.
And, after beating Libya 5-2 in the semi-final, the Pharaohs, who won the tournament in 1996, 2000, and 2004, hankered a fourth crown that would ultimately establish them as the continent’s most successful team in this tournament by far. Chasing after history is always good for morale, even as it is burdensome.
Meanwhile, with Morocco’s playing in front of a home crowd, Egypt knew the challenge would be tough. But playing on home soil was hardly Morocco’s only motivating factor here. Nor was it the only reason they trashed their fellow North Africans. If anything, the Moroccan Lions had been as impressive as their Egyptian challengers throughout the tournament. They easily topped their group and impressively saw off Angola 4-0 in their semi-final fixture.
In the end, however, Egypt lacked the composure and discipline that made them stand out until the final. The Pharaohs had scored 20 goals and only conceded 4 in the buldu up to the final. Against the Moroccan Lions, however, they were toothless and seemed out of ideas, constantly losing possession and wasting the intermittent scoring chances that fell their way.
As for Morocco’s Atlas Lions, the 5-0 scoreline against an opponent of Egypt’s caliber said also much about both the spirit of the Moroccan team and the passionate support they received from the Laayoune crowd.
The tournament happened in a highly politicized context, with South Africa and Mauritius withdrawing from their participation on the ground that Laayoune, the host city, is an “occupied” territory. In response, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the event’s organizers, reiterated its support for the Moroccan host, dismissing South Africa’s complaints and saying that the tournament would proceed as planned.
For good measure, Moroccan nationalism was on full display at Laayoune arena, with a number of Moroccan flags brought to support the national futsal team while also making a strong statement about the Moroccanness of the city.