Morocco crowned U23 Africa Cup of Nations Champions

Morocco crowned U23 AFCON Champions

Morocco beat defending champions Egypt 2-1 in extra time of the final at the U23 Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday, clinching their first U23 African Cup of Nations.

Since the football competition’s inception in 2011, the North Africans are just the fourth nation to win the title. Morocco lost 2-1 to Gabon in Marrakech to finish second in the first competition.

Mahmoud Sabre Abdelmohsen Hassan’s goal 10 minutes into the game gave Egypt the first advantage, giving them a one-point lead. When Hassan received a card just eight minutes after scoring his goal, the reigning champions were quickly down to 10 men.

Despite being down a man, Egypt performed well to maintain their lead. However, the host team tied the score in the 37th minute when Yanis Begraoui scored. The game entered extra time because the score remained tied until the end of regulation time.

Oussama Targhalline, a Moroccan midfielder, made the difference by scoring the game-winning goal from a free kick, giving the hosts the title.

Egypt would certainly regret the consequences of the red card. Prior to the championship game, they had not let up a goal all tournament. However, Morocco played their cards well and withdrew from the competition without suffering a single defeat.

The top three finishers secured their spots in Paris 2024 in the quadrennial football championship, which also served as an Olympic qualifier. By winning the final, Egypt and Morocco guaranteed their spots at the Olympics.

Mali won the bronze medal after defeating Guinea 4-3 in a penalty shootout, becoming the third team to secure their spot at the Olympics.