Morocco began their campaign at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso on Saturday.
Captain Ghizlane Chebbak scored the only goal in the low-scoring affair inside Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat.
The 31-year-old curled home a beautiful free-kick that sailed past goalkeeper Mariam Ouattara, who was otherwise impressive in goal.
Having won their last four matches in all competitions, debutants Burkina Faso went into the game full of hope, nevertheless, they could not contain the North Africans.
After a cagey start, Morocco had the first chance in the ninth minute after Zongo Diamilatou fouled Zineb Redouani outside the goal area. Chebbak took the ensuring kick but it did not threaten Ouattara.
Notwithstanding, the Atlas Lionesses continued to show their intention and another chance beckoned in the 19th minute but Rosella Ayane could not connect to an in-swinging cross from Salma Amani.
A few seconds later, Amani was one-on-one with Burkina Faso goalkeeper, yet she could not put the North Africans ahead.
Reynald Pedros' side got the much-deserved lead when Chebbak drilled home a sumptuous freekick following a Diamilatou foul on Redouani.
Prior to the kick, referee Salima Mukansanga had checked VAR to be sure that the clumsy tackle was not a penalty.
Inspired by their early lead, Morocco continued to dominate ball possession, but they were wasteful in front of goal.
Seven minutes before the half-time break, the North Africans wasted a glorious chance to double their advantage as Amani missed narrowly missed the target after profiting from a poor clearance by Assanato Nako.
Momentum swung in Burkina Faso’s favour early in the second half but the trio of Adama Congo, Balkissa Sawadogo and Juliette Nana could not beat goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi – who had a quiet game.
Even with the introduction of Limata Nikiema, Adele Kabre and Madina Traore, the West Africans struggled in the final third.
The Ladies Stallions thought they had scored a last-gasp equaliser but the goal was chalked off for offside.
With this result, Morocco lead Group A and victory over Uganda on July 5 will hand Pedros’ team a quarter-final ticket.
For Pascal Sawadogo's side, they would be aiming to return to winning ways against Bassouare Diaby’s Senegal.