Boufal brilliance in Yaoundé
Morocco defeated four-time Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) winners Ghana 1-0 at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, courtesy of Sofiane Boufal’s late second-half strike.
Hoping to record only their second victory in the opening match of a group encounter in the last five AFCON tournaments, Ghana began to marginally edge the attacking impetus, approaching the half-hour mark, looking to build momentum after being eliminated in the last 16 in 2019. After remaining undefeated in their qualification campaign, Morocco began to reprise that form, when Romain Saïss was fractions away from leading by example, heading over Ghana goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott’s crossbar in the 40th minute, as both sides remained evenly-matched heading into HT.
Frustrations began to amass within the ‘Black Stars’ ranks when captain André Ayew was booked in the 64th minute, knowing Morocco’s stellar record of 17 clean sheets in the last 21 competitive matches means they’re a tough nut to crack.
However, Ghana were inches away from taking the lead in the 73rd minute, when Yassine Bounou produced a spectacular save to deny Joseph Paintsil’s goal-bound effort from the edge of the area. However, it was heartbreak for Ghana in the 83rd minute, when former Southampton man Boufal pinched all three points for the ‘Atlas Lions’ , converting a rebound past a helpless Wollacott.
Morocco opened their account with victory in Yaoundé, extending their unbeaten run over 90 minutes to 35 matches in competitive fixtures. Meanwhile, Ghana began their ninth successive AFCON participation in unconvincing fashion, looking to avoid a repeat of elimination in the last 16 of the 2019 tournament.