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CHAN 2020: Mali and Morocco’s road to the final

By Brian Aheebwa
Mali players celebrate their victory over Guinea | Courtesy photo

West African side Mali will lock horns with North Africans Morocco at the final of the 2020 African Nations Champions Championship (CHAN) at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on Sunday, February 7.

Mali targets their maiden CHAN title while Morocco aims at defending the title after winning it 2018 when they hosted it.

In this article, Football256’s Bryan Aheebwa brings you the two teams’ road to the final of Africa’s second-biggest tournament.

Morocco sealed passage to the CHAN finals knocking out Algeria 3-0 on aggregate in the Northern Zone qualifiers.

The two power houses played to a goalless draw at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida before Morocco sealed qualification with a 3-0 win at Stade Municipal in Berkane. 

First-half strikes from Badr Benoun, Hamid Ahadad and Mohamed Nahiri ensured victory for Morocco.

In the final tournament, The Atlas Lions were placed in group C along with Rwanda, Togo, and Uganda.

They went on to top the group with seven points after winning 1-0 against Togo, drawing with Rwanda and winning 5-2 against Uganda.

At quarterfinals, they comfortably won 3-1 against Zambia before going on to emphatically knockout hosts Cameroon 4-0 in the semi-finals to reach their second consecutive final.

Meanwhile, Mali kicked off the qualifiers at the first-round stage in the Western Zone A where they smashed Guinea Bissau 7-0 on aggregate.

They won 4-0 in the first leg at Estádio Lino Correia in Bissau before a 3-0 win in the second leg at Stade Modibo Kéïta in Bamako to set up a second-round qualification clash with Mauritania.

The first leg at Stade Olympique in Nouakchott ended 0-0 but Mali won the second 2-0 at Stade Modibo Kéïta in Bamako to qualify for the final tournament.

They were placed in group A in the final tournament along with hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe.

Mali topped the group with seven points after winning 1-0 against Burkina Faso, drawing 1-1 with Cameroon and winning 1-0 against Zimbabwe.

At quarterfinals, they knocked out Congo Brazzaville 5-4 on penalties following a goalless draw in normal time to set a date with Guinea Bissau on semis, edging them 5-4 on penalties to reach their second final.

Mali boasts of the best defensive record in the tournament, conceding only a single goal. But they have not faired any better on the offensive end, finding the back of the net only thrice.

Morocco on the other possesses the most potent attack scoring 13 goals in five games. They look up to tournament top scorer Soufiane Rahimi who has scored in three of their five games and leads the golden boot race with five goals.  

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