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Morocco edge Nigeria to make quarters of AFCON U17

Morocco defeated Nigeria 1-0 on Wednesday at the Mohamed Hamloui Stadium in Constantine to advance directly to the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies U17 AFCON.

Abdel Hamid Maali’s first-half deflection goal was all that was required for Morocco to advance.

After only 75 seconds had passed, Maali scored, giving the Atlas Cubs a lead they would not relinquish as they went on to win by six points and take first place in Group B.

Nigeria played flawlessly, but they failed to score, and they will regret this as they prepare for their key battle against South Africa in the final group game.

A minute and 15 seconds into the game, Maali’s looping left-footed drive took a vicious deflection to fool the goalkeeper. It was evident that Morocco was looking for an early goal as they invaded the Nigeria area from the outset.

Morocco was forced into its own half by Nigeria, but the North Africans maintained their defensive formation and added players to the box’s edge to block any attempts.

When Emmanuel Michael’s cross found Abubakar Abdullahi running into the box, he was given a wonderful opportunity, but his close-range touch went over the crossbar.

Morocco edge Nigeria to make quarters of AFCON U17

Morocco edge Nigeria to make quarters of AFCON U17

Michael attempted to score on his own from a free kick, but it went over the crossbar.

Two minutes before halftime, Maali intercepted Jeremiah Olaleke’s brief back pass, nearly giving Morocco a second.

Adnane El Ahmer received a pass from the goal scorer and squared it to him, but the latter unmarkedly shot straight at the keeper.

The same thing happened in the second half, with Nigeria dominating play and pinning Morocco, but with no goals to show for it. While Yahaya Lawali’s shot from one of his rogue runs on the right narrowly missed the crossbar, Favour Daniel’s shot flew across the face of the goal.

Nigeria made a personnel change, with Light Eke taking the place of captain Prince Williams up front in an effort to discover fresh approaches. With seven minutes remaining, Eke came close to scoring, but the goalkeeper parried his attempt from within the box for a corner.

Nigeria made a ferocious offensive effort but was unable in scoring.

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