20th January, 2014
Morocco and Zimbabwe progressed to the quarter-finals of the African Nations Championship with a 3-1 win over Uganda and a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso, respectively on Monday.
The two countries finished with five points each while Uganda ended the group stage with four points and Burkina Faso with one.
Their reward is Morocco playing one of the title favourites Nigeria in the quarter-final on Saturday while Zimbabwe will play Mali also on Saturday.
Morocco won the group on goal difference, while Zimbabwe progressed thanks largely to their outstanding goalkeeper George Chigova, who is yet to concede a goal in the tournament.
Zimbabwe — the only side not to have conceded a goal — will though have to be more potent in attack as they mustered only their first goal of the championship on Monday through Masimba Mambare, his header ending the Zimbabweans woeful run of 236 minutes without a goal.
The game was played in very windy conditions at the Athlone Stadium but the Zimbabweans enjoyed loads of support from a lot of compatriots who are based in the country — many of them economic refugees.
Morocco’s joy was Uganda’s pain as the Ugandans had gone into the final round with a two point lead and a draw would have sufficed for them to reach the last eight.
However, the ‘Atlas Lions’ — seven of whose players come from World Club Championship finalists Raja Casablanca — having been pegged back at 1-1 on the hour mark showed steel to get the result they needed to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Two late goals saw them home as Mouhssine Iajour scored in the 77th minutes and Abdelkbir El Ouadi netted in the third minute of stoppage time to keep alive their hopes of the title — having knocked out titleholders Tunisia in the qualifying round they will fancy their chances of going all the way.