Morocco 1-0 Ghana: Atlas Lions pip Black Stars in Rabat friendly

CK Akonnor’s men could not find a way pass Vahid Halilhodzic’s outfit in their encounter on Tuesday

A Razak Abalora howler was punished by Jawad El-Yamiq as Morocco handed Ghana a 1-0 defeat in a friendly fixture on Tuesday.

The defender’s second half effort proved the difference in the fixture at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.

The game was a test match for the two sides ahead of commencement of the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in September.

Ghana coach CK Akonnor handed a starting spot to Asante Kotoko goalkeeper Abalora in the absence of injured Orlando Pirates shot-stopper Richard Ofori.

Leicester City defender Daniel Amartey completed his return to the Black Stars since 2018 with a starting place at centre-back. Team captain Andre Ayew was relegated to the bench owing to his late arrival in camp, the armband going to younger brother Jordan Ayew who led the attack.

For Morocco, winger Hakim Ziyech, who won the Champions League with Chelsea, was left on the bench after arriving late in camp.

Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri led the Atlast Lions attack as Inter Milan defender Achaf Hakimi started at right-back.

Ghana made the first attempt to open the scoring in the sixth minute when Joel Fameyeh connected to an Andy Yiadom cross into the box but the Russia-based attacker’s half volley flew just over the bar.

In the 13th minute, Jordan found space outside the box to unleash a shot but his effort was no trouble for Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

The hosts had their first opportunity in the 22nd minute, perhaps the best chance of the half, when Wolverhampton Wanderers centre-back Romain Saiss lost Ghanaian marker Iddrisu Baba for a free header on Adel Taarabt’s corner but the glancing effort bounced just over the bar.

A similar situation came again in the 37th minute after Taarabt delivered another corner into the box, but Nayef Aguerd’s connecting half-volley flew over, to the relief of the Ghana defence.

After the break, Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic threw on Ziyech in the 68th minute who produced an immediate impact with a free-kick which was fumbled by goalkeeper Abalora. El-Yamiq won a scramble for the air ball to head into an empty net.

In the 71st minute, Kudus called Bounou into action, the Sevilla goalkeeper stretching at full length to push out the goal-bound effort.

Nine minutes later, Kudus found space to shoot once again after a counter attack, but his strike was easily collected by Bounou this time around.

Ghana made a desperate late attempt for an equaliser, including throwing on captain Andre Ayew, but the Atlast Lions held their own to register a home win.

The Black Stars return to action on Saturday when they return to host Cote d’Ivoire in a second friendly in Cape Coast.

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