Morocco’s national football team of local-based players has won the African Nations Championship (CHAN) for the second time in a row after beating Mali 2-0 in the final.
The game took place tonight in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde, marking the end of three weeks of fierce competition for the CHAN title.
Morocco scored both goals from corner kicks. Defender Soufiane Bouftini opened the score with a strong header at the 69th minute, while team captain Ayoub El Kaabi sealed the win at the 80th minute.
Today’s achievement comes after a grueling six-game campaign for the Moroccan squad.
The national team began the competition in Group C, alongside Togo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Morocco’s first two performances — a 1-0 win against Togo and a 0-0 draw versus Rwanda — were unconvincing and planted doubts in many fans.
However, in the third game, the Moroccan team appeared to finally regain the offensive prowess that characterized it in the 2018 CHAN. It thrashed Uganda with a 5-2 score, finishing the group stage at the top.
Morocco proceeded to beat Zambia 3-1 in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, the Moroccan team eliminated the tournament’s hosts, Cameroon, with a dominating 4-0 score, sending a strong message to their opponents in the final.
Mali, meanwhile, had a relatively less impressive journey. Despite finishing the group stage at the top of Group A, ahead of Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe, the Eagles reached the final through two penalty shootouts.
In both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, against Congo and Guinea respectively, Mali won 5-4 through penalties, after the games ended in 0-0 draws.
Morocco’s achievement today makes the Atlas Lions, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, the team with the most CHAN titles. Morocco is also the only team so far to win the competition two times in a row.
At the individual level, Moroccan players were also able to maintain the tournament’s top scorer trophy. After Ayoub El Kaabi earned the award in 2018 with nine goals, his fellow countryman Soufiane Rahimi earned the title this year with five goals.