The Lions of the Atlas were forced to a goalless draw by Angola, who returned in second half to dominate the proceedings
Angola and Morocco played a goalless draw on Saturday at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg in the second match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Both sides were meeting each other for the sixth time, with the Lions of Atlas holding the historic advantage after winning four of their previous encounters and drawing the last one 2-2 in Lisbon in 2009.
Morocco went underway with a frenetic pace, adopting their traditional fluid play pattern and quickly seizing control of the midfield while forcing the Angolans to beat retreat and cover their rearguard.
Mounir El Hamdaoui, who left Ajax last July for Fiorentina, got the first goal chance of the game just 10 minutes from kickoff, when he unleashed a lightning strike after a breakaway effort, which forced a daring save from Angola goalkeeper Lama.
The Lions multiplied threatening actions during the first quarter of the meeting, opting to cut in through the flanks into the Angolan area but remained unsuccessful in front of goal as the first half wore on.
After connecting a cross from the left flank, Liverpool forward Oussama Assaidi jinxed into the box area but after cleverly evading two defenders he fluffed his kick over the crossbar.
A more agile Moroccan side remained in the ascendancy by the half hour mark of the faceoff but still unable to bend out any successful finish.
Angola preferred to play low while spying far off for possible counters following the intense pressure and domination of the Moroccans.
With their effort not yielding, the North Africans tried to conserve the ball in a bid to pull the opposing team out of their rearguard, but the Angolans were clever enough to avoid the trap.
Mateus of Primeira Liga side Nacional was the boldest Angolan forward during the first half, but failed to hit the back net though. His fine cross from the right near the 40th minute found no red shirt in the Moroccan area, which could have changed the situation in their favour.
Mateus continued his menace on the Moroccan defence but after being set up on the edge of the box he was obstructed by Udinesse defender Mehdi Benatia, which seemed very much like a fault but the Senegalese referee ordered to play on.
Morocco lost steam as the first half wound out, with the Angolans gradually getting on the board. Mingo Bille of Primeiro de Agosto was tripped 32 yards out, but the ensuing free kick was buckled by Manucho, who put up a modest showing during the first half.
Angola began the second half with a stiffer determination and more stable performance, as they manned a continuous flow of traffic towards the opposing goal, with a now nervy Moroccan side struggling to clear the avalanche of dangers coming their way and committing nasty fouls in the process.
Coach Rachid Taoussi introduced Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda and Youssef El-Arabi of Granada, in an attempt to inject some strength to his side and fend off the pressure, which paid off immediately as Nordin Amrabat’s numerous crosses into the Angolan area were now been useful, which dragged back most of the overlapping Angola players.
Marco Airosa and Gilberto completed the Palancas Negras three-man substitution, which was followed by a beautiful action from Manucho, who picked up a lose ball in the area but shot wide, with five minutes to time.
Mateus blasted a strike on target but the Moroccan goalkeeper Lamyaghri gathered the effort. Moments after, Mateus worked down the right and squared in for onrushing Manucho and Alfonso, but neither could get on the end of the cross.
The two sides had their great moments. The first half was for Morocco while Angola dominated the second but neither could walk off with a win.