INTERNATIONAL

Friendly: Morocco victorious for its first with Brahim Diaz

By Jean Lootcheby Clysto

For its first outing since the failure of CAN 2023, Morocco provided the bare minimum. With their new Eliesse Ben Seghir and Brahim Diaz, the Atlas Lions won 1-0 against Angola at the Grand Stade in Agadir. Outrageously dominated, the Palancas Negras finally cracked just before the last quarter of an hour with an own goal.

Back home after its disappointing CAN, Morocco had to get off to a good start in front of its home crowd. The Atlas Lions thus got off to a flying start with a first alert after just two minutes of play. Azzedine Ounahi served full on Ayoub El Kabi who saw goalkeeper Neblu narrowly escape his feet. The ball did not benefit Brahim Diaz, starting on the left wing for his first, and who was in ambush (3rd). Ten minutes later, the Angolans responded with a cross from the right headed by Mabululu, who saw the ball pass past the left post of Yassine Bounou (13th). A succession of Moroccan situations followed. Eliesse Ben Seghir, who was also celebrating his first cap, mystified the defense on the left and found Achraf Hakimi in the area for a pivot delivery for Diaz. The latter then saw his strike blocked by the Palancas Negras (16th). Four minutes later, Ben Seghir again eliminated his opponent on the left then crossed at the far post for El Kabi, somewhat hampered by Hakim Ziyech (30th). The latter found Nayef Aguerd on a free kick who placed his head behind the small net (31st)

Dominated, the Palancas Negras believed they had obtained a penalty against the run of play, but the referee did not flinch despite a disputed foul in the Moroccan area (34th). The Atlas Lions kept up the pressure with the Diaz-Ben Seghir duo. The first finding the second for a curling shot on the edge of the area, captured by Neblu (38th). Despite the numerous situations, the Moroccans struggled to create big chances. We had to wait until the 40th minute to see the first real thrill in the Angolan defense. This one bore the seal of Ziyech. At the conclusion of a good sequence on the left, the Galatasaray winger brushed a cross to the far post for El Kabi, too late to return to the empty goal. Shortly after an off-target header from Mabululu (42nd), the former Chelsea man was at the origin of another dangerous opportunity with a free kick that was pushed back with difficulty by Neblu (45th)

Angola cracks, Morocco’s ovation for Diaz

Returning from the break, Diaz was very close to achieving his team’s domination, but his judicious lob attempt was stopped by Neblu who came out on the edge of the area (53rd). He wasn’t far from it either six minutes later when his free kick from 20 meters flirted with the crossbar (59th). Finally the deliverance came for the Lions shortly before the last quarter of an hour. Defender David Carmo deflected a cross from Yahia Attiat-Allah into his own goals in front of the returning Soufiane Rahimi in a position to finish at the near post (1-0, 72nd). This triggered a shot finishing just above the net at the end of the match (81st)

Morocco had provided the essentials. Walid Regragui took the opportunity to replace Ben Seghir and Diaz, leaving in this case to the ovation of the Moroccan public. The Atlas Lions will face Mauritania on Tuesday for their last match of the break, still at the Grand Stade in Agadir. The Angolans will challenge the Comoros in Marrakech