Zakaria Hadraf scored twice as Morocco thumped 10-men Nigeria 4-0 in Sunday’s African Nations Championship final in Casablanca to win their first CHAN title.
Hadraf opened the scoring in the 44th minute after the Atlas Lions had largely bossed the opening stages, and struck the hosts’ third in the 63rd minute – moments after Walid El Karti had doubled their lead.
Nigeria, who were reduced to 10 men in the 47th minute when Moses Eneji received a second yellow, capitulated after the break, as they struggled to cope with the conditions, the man deficit and Morocco’s attacking firepower, with Ayoub El Kaabi adding his ninth of the tournament 18 minutes from time.
Morocco served notice of their danger early on and had the ball in the back of the net after six minutes, only for the referee to rule it out after the linesman stopped that Ismail El Haddad’s corner had gone out of play before Ayoub El Kaabi headed past Dele Ajiboye.
The hosts’ physical dominance was evident, however, as they consistently won the 50-50s and overpowered Dayo Ojo and Rabiu Ali in the Nigerian midfield.
El Kaabi went close, again from a fine delivery from El Haddad, when he sent an audacious overhead kick agaisnt the crossbar just before the quarter-hour mark, while Mohamed Nahiri hooked a Badr Benoun header out of the hands of Ajiboye in the 34th minute.
Nigeria had appeared to be weathering the storm by the time the opener came.
A fine move from the hosts was concluded emphatically when Abdeljalil Jbira cutback for the impressive Hadraf, who sidefooted past Ajiboye with aplomb just before the break.
As if Nigeria’s task, in front of a partisan crowd at the Stade Mohammed V, wasn’t tricky enough, Peter Moses was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 47th minute following a clumsy tackle from behind on Nahiri.
The youngster had begun to justify his surprise inclusion ahead of Anthony Okpotu in the first half with a few flashes of his searing pace, but his dismissal left the Super Eagles even more up against it at the start of the second period.
Morocco ought to have killed off the contest in the minutes that followed, with two headers – the second an open chance for El Kaabi – falling agonisingly wide of Ajiboye’s goal.
On the hour-mark, the floodgates opened.
Nigeria thought they’d got away with it when El Kaabi’s ambitious scissors kick rattled the woodwork, but after Ajiboye parried El Haddad’s shot back into the melee, El Karti sent a looping header over the stranded stopper.
The Super Eagles’ capitulation continued, and moments later it was three, as Ajiboye again parried El Haddad’s cross and Hadraf was on hand to put the contest beyond the 10-men of Nigeria.
El Kaabi, arguably the outstanding player of this tournament, compounded a miserable night for the Eagles when their defence was again exposed in the 72nd minute and the CHAN top scorer was able to add to his tally with a side-footed effort.