Host Morocco kicked off their 2018 Chan campaign on the right foot with a convincing 4-0 win over Mauritania in the opening match staged at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Saturday.
A brace from Ayoub El Kaabi and a goal each from Ismail El Hadad and Acharaf Bencharki gave the host a strong start in group A that also has Sudan and Guinea.
The win ensured that Morocco got off the block first in the maiden official international match between the two countries according to Fifa’s statistical database.
Mauritania held their nerves to force a scoreless draw at the break, but could not hold together to the final whistle when they lowered their guards in the 66-minute.
Ayoub El Kaabi broke the deadlock with the first goal of the tournament in the 66th minute to hand Morocco the lead as the host begin to terrorize a hapless Maurtania.
The victors then doubled the scores in the 72 minute through El Hadad before El Kaabi completed his brace eight minutes later to pave way for Acharaf Bencharki who completed the work in added time with a fourth goal to hand Morocco a full command of group A.
Morocco dominated the match with 65 percent ball possession and 28 (12 on target) shots on goal to Mauritania's 2 (1) and 11 corners in a single match.
Mauritania are making their second appearance at these games, having debuted in South Africa 2014, where they exited in the group stage.
Morocco who are making a third successive appearance at the continental stage are under pressure from home fans to better their 2016 performance where they exited the competition at the group stages in Rwanda. Morocco reached the quarterfinals on debut in 2014.
Morocco squad: Anas Zniti, Nayef Aguerd, Zakaria Hadraf, Salaheddine Saidi, Ayoub el Kaabi, Ismail El Haddad, Badr Benoun ©, Mohammed Nahiri, Abdelilah Hafidi, El Mefdi Barrhma, Abdeljalil Jbira.
Mauritania squad: Suleimane Brahim, Mohammed Wade, Sidi Mohammed, Lembrabott El Hacen, Moullayeahmed Khalil, Oumar Mangane, Moussa Baghayoko ©, Elycheikh Samba, Samba Moussa.