Morocco got their defense of the African Nations Championship title off to a winning, albeit slightly sluggish, start with a 1-0 win against debutants Togo at the Stade de la Réunification in Douala on Monday.
The only goal of the game was scored by Yahya Jabrane who converted a penalty in the 27th minute after the referee judged the defender had been fouled by Togo’s Kokouvi Amekoudji.
That penalty was Jabrane’s second attempt as the first one had been saved by Togo’s goalkeeper Abdoul-Moubarak Aigba. However, the referee ordered the spot-kick to be retaken after Aigba was penalized for moving before the initial kick was taken.
The Moroccans were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances while smart saves from Morocco’s Anas Zniti and Aigba kept the score locked at 1-0.
Morocco are one of the favourites for the title because, aside from the fact that they are defending champions, they still have within them members of their 2018 title-winning campaign players, such as Golden Boot winner Walid El Karti and most valuable player Ayoub El Kaabi.
The day’s other match saw Rwanda and Uganda play out a goalless draw at the same venue. Rwanda had the game’s best chances with Muhadjiri Hakizimana striking the crossbar with a long-range shot and captain Jacques Tuyisenge grazing the post with a glancing header.
As a result, Morocco leads Group C with three points followed by Rwanda and Uganda on one point each and Togo props the table with zero.
The next group games will see Morocco play Rwanda on Friday while Uganda and Togo lock horns on the same day.