Afcon roundup Morocco into last 16, Ghana in trouble after heated draw

Morocco proved too strong for the Africa Cup of Nations debutants Comoros, winning 2-0 in Yaoundé to book their place in the last 16.

Selim Amallah put Morocco in front from close range after 16 minutes at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, and the Atlas Lions missed a number of chances to take control of the game. Their captain, Romain Saïss, headed a corner against the bar before Ayoub El Kaabi missed two good opportunities after the break.

Youssef En-Nesyri came off the bench on his comeback from injury but the Morocco forward saw his late penalty saved by Salim Ben Boina. The Comoros keeper, who plays in the French regional leagues, produced an inspired display but could not keep out Zakaria Aboukhlal’s stoppage-time strike, initially disallowed for offside but awarded by the VAR.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s side have six points from two matches and will top Group C if they avoid defeat against Gabon in their next game. The Panthers sit second in the group after a 1-1 draw with Ghana that leaves their opponents at risk of an early exit.

Ghana took the lead through their captain, André Ayew, who blasted home a superb left-footed shot after after 18 minutes. The Black Stars appeared on course for victory but the Gabon substitute Jim Allevinah levelled with two minutes to go, realistically leaving Ghana needing a victory against Comoros to escape the group.

Allevinah’s spectacular finish was also controversial, with Ghana angry that Gabon failed to return the ball after it had been put out following an injury. Tempers flared and Ghana’s Benjamin Tetteh was sent off for his part in the post-match scuffles. Gabon were without three players, including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, after post-Covid medical tests.

In Group B, Orlando Pirates striker Frank “Gabadinho” Mhango scored twice for Malawi as they stunned Zimbabwe with a 2-1 victory, boosting their hopes of a first-ever appearance in the Afcon knockout stages.

Ishmael Wadi put Zimbabwe ahead in the first half but Mhango levelled just before the break in Bafoussam, converting Francisco Madinga’s cross at the far post. Mhango struck again in the 58th minute as he took advantage of some hesitant defending and supplied a poacher’s finish.

Victory was the Flames’ second ever at an Afcon finals, after beating Algeria in 2010. Elsewhere in Group B, Senegal failed to sparkle as the pre-tournament favourites were held to a 0-0 draw by Guinea in the early kick-off.

Senegal’s coach, Aliou Cissé, was without 10 players due to Covid-19, including the centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, the first-choice goalkeeper in Édouard Mendy and the midfielder Idrissa Gueye. Guinea were missing four players for the derby game in Bafoussam.

Sadio Mané had a chance from a close-range free-kick early in the game but the Senegal captain struck the wall with his effort. Mané was largely overshadowed in the opening half by his Liverpool teammate Naby Keïta, who split the Senegal defence with a through ball. Seny Dieng did well to deny Ilaix Moriba before Morgan Guilavogui botched the rebound.

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