AFCON 2019: Underdogs coming of age

By Brian Aheebwa

Just like in the opening game of the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations where the hosts Egypt recorded a slim 1-0 win over mediocre Zimbabwe, it was witnessed again when Namibia stretched the nerves of another giant in Morocco.

Morocco won the game 1-0 with the last kick of the game played at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Sunday.

It’s one thing to play with comfort and another to be convincing, this has been with Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco who all played comfortably but never won convincingly in their openers.

Probably because at this stage it’s better to be conscious that open up and be inviting against fast rising opposition.

Although none of them has registered good results, the performance of low ranked teams is so far impressive.

This has left many believing that the African football game code is on a fast-steady pace to changing and improving.

Against Namibia, the Atlas Lions played with purpose and a lot of intensity but couldn’t hold any reward up to 89th minute.

Anyone would have expected them to kill off the game earlier but that wasn’t the case as they were held overtime.

Morocco dominated play but couldn’t penetrate through Namibia’s back line when Itamunua Keimune scored in his own net granting the North Africans some breathing space.

Morocco’s coach Hervé Renard facial expressions when his side finally scored told a story of a manager who believed his side should have done better.

Morocco was poor in the final third as the Namibians had a different game approach which saw them defend themselves allowing Renard’s charges enjoy the lion’s share of ball posession.

Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech and Al-Nassr winger Nordin Amrabat were more a threat to Namibia, they had a number of shots on goal but couldn’t convert any of them.

The two-time AFCON winning coach Renard will have to reorganize his team especially in the final third ahead of their second game against two-time winners and former employers Ivory Coast on June 28th.

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