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Africa Cup of Nations
January 23, 2013
• Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Referee: J. Sikazwe
• Attendance: 25000
Y. El-Arabi 79'
Cape Verde Islands
Shots on Target
The final round of Group A fixtures take place on Sunday with Cape Verde entertaining Angola whilst Morocco take on hosts South Africa. Who will qualify for the knockout stages? That's all from me, Max Bentley, on what has been a fantastic advert for African football. Until next time, goodbye!
Rachid Taoussi's substitutions certainly seemed to make a difference and the Lions of the Atlas will take confidence from their second-half fightback. You feel there is definitely more to come from this predominantly European-based side.
FULL TIME: MOROCCO 1 - 1 CAPE VERDE. A pulsating affair here in Durban with Morocco claiming a spoil of the shares courtesy of Yousef El Arabi's second-half equaliser. Cape Verde could have been out of sight in the first half and they will rue their lack of profligacy in front of goal. With the game against Angola to come, qualification to the knockout stages is still very much a possibility for the Blue Sharks.
90' + 5'
Zakariar Bergdich delivers a teasing cross from the left but it is headed clear excellently by Gege.
90' + 4'
Both teams are really going for it in the dying embers here. Will we see late drama? Less than a minute remaining.
90' + 3'
Babanco lofts a brilliant ball over the back line for Heldon to chase and the Maritimo forward is just beaten to it by the advancing Lamyaghri. Wonderful sweeper-goalkeeping.
90' + 2'
Cape Verde look to launch a late counterattack and with three men in the box, Roni disappointingly fails to pick out a white shirt with his cross. That was a good opportunity.
90' + 1'
We have seen a lot of late goals at this African Cup of Nations, will we get a winner here? There will be five minutes of stoppage time.
Final change for Cape Verde as Guy Ramos replaces Julio Tavares. Lucio Antunes is just looking to shore things up here.
Kamel Chafni attempts to become Morocco's hero when he unleashes a fizzing left-footed drive from the edge of the area but his effort narrowly evades the top left-hand corner.
Tavares looks to latch onto a long ball from Neves but Benatia gets ahead of the striker to make a crucial clearance. Less than five minutes remaining.
EL ARABI GOES CLOSE! Having scored the equaliser, the Granada forward should double his tally when he meets a corner from the right unmarked but his glancing header goes just the wrong side of the post.
Morocco attack down the other end with Belgahouzani but there is no red shirt to meet his teasing cross.
CAPE VERDE GO SO CLOSE TO REGAINING THE LEAD! Heldon breaks the offside trap to latch onto Babanco's clever slide-pass but his shot across goal lacks conviction and Lamyaghri manages to get a hand to the effort. What a chance that was for Cape Verde!
MOROCCO EQUALISE! Abdelaziz has been Morocco's best performer today and he surges down the right wing before cutting the ball back for El Arabi who makes no mistake in converting past Vozinha from inside the penalty box. Game on!
Goal Youssef El Arabi
The Cape Verde players continue to chase every ball and close down every Moroccan shirt. Can they hold on for a famous victory?
Having dispatched of Cameroon on route to this competition, are Cape Verde about to defeat another African giant in the form of Morocco? 14 minutes remaining.
Ryan Mendes is the next man to be substituted and he is replaced by Maritimo midfielder Heldon.
Barrada looks to restore parity with a long-range piledriver but his low effort is comfortably saved by Vozinha. Morocco starting to turn the screw a little here.
BRILLIANT CHALLENGE FROM VARELA! When El Ahmadi releases El Arabi the striker looks set to finish but is denied by a wonderful last-ditch challenge from Varela. The Vaslui centre-back has been imperious today.
El Arabi is looking lively for Morocco but when the ball falls to him on the edge of the box, he cannot sort out his feet quickly enough and a good chance breaks down.
Platini, the potential matchwinner of this match, comes off to be replaced by Roni who plies his trade in Luxembourg for Fola Esch.
Yellow Card Youssef El Arabi
Moments after he goes close with a header, El Arabi is cautioned for a high boot on Neves.
Platini is writhing on the turf and it certainly appears that Belgahouzani kicked out at him. Morocco fortunate that the referee did not spot that.
Abdelaziz steps up to take the freekick but his fierce effort dips over the crossbar.
Yellow Card Nando
Fernando Neves is the latest player in the referee's book after a nasty challenge through the back of El Arabi. Good freekick opportunity here for Morocco.
Younes Belhanda does not look happy as he is replaced by Brest midfielder Kamel Chafni. Final roll of the dice from Taoussi.
Yellow Card Abdel
Abdelaziz Barrada is cautioned for dissent. Frustration beginning to show for the Lions of the Atlas.
Chakir once again gets clear down the right but his cross is wasteful and straight into the gloves of Vozinha. More quality needed in the final third from the Moroccan players.
Yellow Card Younes Belhanda
Younes Belhanda is cautioned for a foul on Tavares. The studs were certainly raised. No complaints from the Montpellier playmaker who has already been sent off twice this season.
Ryan Mendes surges down the right before clipping in a cross for Tavares but Benatia tracks his run excellently and executes a wonderful header to keep the scoreline 1-0. Half an hour to go.
There is a stoppage in play as Toni Varela receives treatment.
Morocco find themselves pinned back deep inside their own half and have to defend resolutely to turn away a series of crosses into the box. Cape Verde looking the more likely of the two sides to score.
Babanco delivers an inviting cross from the left towards the back post where Varela is steaming in, but the Vaslui defender nods narrowly over the bar.
Oussama Assaidi has been disappointing for Morocco and the Liverpool man is replaced by Chakir Belghazouani who plies his trade in France for Ajaccio.
Cape Verde threaten a second goal when Fernando Neves finds himself in an unfamiliar attacking position and he crosses into the box for his central defensive partner Fernando Varela who sends a powerful header narrowly over the crossbar.
Cape Verde take a quick freekick and the run of Ryan Mendes causes the Moroccan defence problems down the right but Mehdi Benatia is on hand to head away the Lille forward's dangerous cross.
Positive start for Morocco who are seeing much more of the ball in this second half. However, they are yet to penetrate this Cape Verde defence. Who can provide that spark of magic?
Chekir has got forward well from right-back for Morocco today and he does so again early on, but Fernando Varela gets ahead of El Arabi to clear.
Youssef El Arabi
Half-time substitution for Morocco with Yousef El Arabi replacing Nordin Amrabat. Can the Granada forward prove the difference?
Resilient at the back, dangerous up front, Cape Verde really are the darkhorses for this year's African Cup of Nations. How far can they go? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @MaxBentley1.
HALF TIME: MOROCCO 0 - 1 CAPE VERDE. Platini's 36th-minute strike gives the Blue Sharks a hugely deserved lead at the break. Their work ethic has been admirable and coach Lucio Antunes will be delighted with how his side have dominated the first half. Rachid Taoussi's Morocco simply have not turned up and if they do not step it up, Cape Verde will surely claim their first ever African Cup of Nations victory.
45' + 1'
Positive end to the half for the Lions of the Atlas. Barrada looks to slip in a pass for El Hamdaoui but the Fiorentina forward is jockeyed excellently by Varela who produces a wonderful interception.
Karim El Ahmadi strikes a freekick from 25 yards out but the Cape Verde wall stands firm to block. Can Morocco find a way through?
Morocco look to threaten at the end of the half but Chekir's cross from the right is headed clear by Neves.
You have to admire this Cape Verde work ethic. They are chasing every lost ball and are on the backs of the Moroccan players whenever they receive a pass. Just brilliant from Lucio Antunes' side.
Amrabat makes a rare burst down the right wing, surging past Nivaldo, but his cutback, intended for Barrada, is well cut out by Fernando Varela. This Cape Verde defence is yet to be breached in this tournament.
Barrada looks to loft a freekick into the Cape Verde penalty box but his delivery is poor and fails to beat the first man. I imagine the Moroccan players are going to be in for a bit of an earful from Taoussi at the break.
Yellow Card Ryan Mendes
Ryan Mendes receives Cape Verde's first caution for a foul in Barrada.
Assist Ryan Mendes
CAPE VERDE SCORE THEIR FIRST EVER AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS GOAL! Ryan Mendes is the architect as he splits the Morocco defence with an incisive through pass and Platini seizes on the ball and casually dinks it over the advancing Lamyaghri. You can't say Cape Verde don't deserve it!
Lamyaghri to the rescue! When Mendes' through ball is excellently dispossessed on the edge of the box by El Adoua, Platini curls a wonderful left-footed strike towards goal but the Wydad Casablanca goalkeeper does excellently to punch the ball away from his right-hand post. The goal is surely coming.
Platini looks to set Gege free down the right wing but Abdelaziz Barrada gets across excellently to hold off the right-back. Can the Blue Sharks find the goal that their attacking play merits?
Morocco just cannot hold possession in the Cape Verde half at the moment and Lucio Antunes' team are pressing their opponents excellently and not allowing them to settle on the ball. Vozinha has hardly been tested.
The Blue Sharks certainly seem to have a shoot on sight policy and Gege is the latest to try his luck from distance but Lamyaghri comfortably smothers his effort.
Younes Belhanda slips a neat through pass behind the Cape Verde backline for Karim El Ahmadi but the linesman adjudges that the Aston Villa man was offside. Just a warning sign there for Cape Verde.
How many chances do Cape Verde need? When the ball is lofted into the box, Mendes heads the ball back excellently for Platini but the Santa Clara attacker slices an effort wide of the goal.
Ryan Mendes takes the freekick, striking it low under the wall, but it is expertly saved by Lamyaghri.
Yellow Card Abderrahim Chakir
Abderrahim Chakir is the first player to be cautioned for a foul on Platini just outside the box. This is a great freekick opportunity for Cape Verde.
Nordin Amrabat bursts to the byline before sending in a low cross which is well dealt with by Fernando Neves. A real lack of urgency from the Moroccan players to fill the penalty box there.
Morocco continue to concede needless freekicks at the back post but no white shirt can meet Babanco's delivery. Can Cape Verde make their pressure count?
Julio Tavares has two attempts to break the deadlock, first seizing on a lost ball inside the box but his shot is deflected into Lamyaghri's gloves before he then dispossesses Chakir inside the Moroccan half, but his shot from distance skews horribly wide of the target.
Marco Soares looks to drift a freekick into the opposition penalty box for Varela or Neves to head towards goal but Lamyaghri rises above the Cape Verde duo to punch clear. No sign of attacking relent from the Blue Sharks.
Platini looks to jink past Assaidi with a neat piece of skill on the edge of the box, but the Liverpool winger stands firm to make a crucial interception. Very fast and promising start to this contest.
The movement of Julio Tavares is causing the Moroccan defence early on. Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia certainly appears to have his hands full.
Abderrahim Chakir unleashes a dipping low drive from long distance which nearly creeps into the bottom corner, but Vozinha gets across his goal quickly to parry the effort.
Mounir El Hamdaoui looks to latch on to a long ball from the defence but Fernando Varela does well to hold off the challenge of the Fiorentina forward and Vozinha is allowed to claim.
Moroccan left-back Zakariar Bergdich does well to bulldoze down the left wing but he is unable to pick out a red shirt with his low cutback.
Cape Verde are the team probing early on and Toni Varela's teasing low cross from the right is just too far for Julio Tavares to reach. Lucio Antunes will be thrilled with how his side have started.
Babanco whips in another freekick for Cape Verde but Lamyaghri is off his line quickly to make an important punch upfield.
Early chance for Cape Verde! Marco Soares fizzes in a teasing freekick which is flicked on by the shoulder of Julio Tavares, forcing Nadir Lamyaghri to tip the ball over the crossbar. Morocco clear from the resulting corner. Good start from the Blue Sharks.
Incidentally, Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes' full-time job is an air traffic controller. Can he achieve a managerial masterstroke against his opposite number Rachid Taoussi tonight?
The national anthems of both countries echo around the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The first ever meeting between these two nations is set to get underway.
Cape Verde (4-3-2-1): Vozinha, Gege, F.Varela, Neves, Nivaldo; Babanco, Soares, T.Varela; Platini, Mendes; Tavares.
Morocco (4-5-1): Lamyaghri, Chakir, Benatia, El Adoua, Bergdich; Barrada, El Ahmadi, Belhanda, Amrabat, Assaidi; El Hamdaoui.
Without any further ado, here are the lineups...
But Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi will know better than to underestimate this Cape Verde side who proved difficult to break down in their opening match against South Africa. If the Blue Sharks can strike first, they could be celebrating their first African Cup of Nations victory.
It has been 37 years since Morocco last won the African Cup of Nations and the Moroccan fans have genuine hope that this set of players can compete for the trophy. With the likes of Montpellier's Younes Belhanda, Liverpool's Oussama Assaidi and Fiorentina's Mounir El Hamdaoui in the ranks, the Cape Verde defence could be in for a tough game tonight.
Having both enjoyed 0-0 draws in their opening fixtures, this second Group A match between Morocco and Cape Verde has that extra spark, with both sides knowing that a win will give them an excellent chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. Rachid Taoussi's Moroccan outfit underperformed in their stalemate with Angola and with a host of European talent, the Lions of the Atlas are expected to perform better to oust Lucio Antune's Cape Verde, who produced a highly-commendable display in their first ever African Cup of Nations finals match against South Africa. Can the Blue Sharks spring another upset tonight? Bringing you live updates from the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, my name is Max Bentley. Feel free to tweet me your predictions on the match and your thoughts on the tournament so far via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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