The meeting between the Black Stars was primed to be a match of surprises with many going for a 50-50 situation though the Atlas Lions found themselves favourites over their opponents owing to their recent form.
And just as expected by many neutrals, a win in the long run for the North Africans has been delivered. It was left very late into the game. It was a goal that caused the Ghana technical team to thinker with its numbers, pushing in three substitutes at a go in a frantic effort to get back into the game. But it was a little too late as the Moroccans held on to secure a dream start to the competition.
The Black Stars played on the back foot from the start of the game but heading towards the 10th minute, the Ghanaians grew into the game and started making good forays into the opponents half. The incursions were not so dangerously precise to threaten and it was not silent on the other half as the Moroccans also pushed back regularly.
It was relatively even 45 minutes of action from two teams who were both cautious of conceding than anxious at scoring. Though Morocco went into the break with some superior football by way of possession in the bag, they had nothing substantial to show.
Back from the break, the Moroccans pushed harder this time around with the Ghanaians responding in almost equal measures with a lot of activity in each team’s goal area. Many set pieces were wasted as was the case in the first half, especially by the Atlas Lions.
Vahid Halihodzic’s men were rewarded in the 83rd-minute when Soufiane Boufal capitalized on a mistake by the Ghana defence to set him up and he angled a shot past Jojo Wollacott to give the Atlas Lions the much-needed lead.
Ghana threw in more attacking players in Benjamin Tetteh, Fatawu Issahaku and Daniel Kofi-Kyereh and later Richmond Boakye Yiadom in a bid to force their way back into the game but it was a little too late as the Moroccans held on the secure the all-important opening day victory.
The Black Stars will next take on Gabon on Friday, while Morocco squares off against Comoros in an early kick-off on the same day.