Morocco’s Late Goal Sends Ivory Coast to Afcon 2023 Last 16


In a dramatic twist at the Africa Cup of Nations 2023, Morocco’s victory over Zambia, courtesy of Hakim Ziyech’s goal, has led to the advancement of host nation Ivory Coast to the last 16. The decisive Group F match ended with a narrow 1-0 win for Morocco, eliminating Zambia and inadvertently aiding Ivory Coast.

Zambia entered the match needing only a draw to secure their place in the last 16, thus potentially excluding Ivory Coast. However, a close-range goal by Ziyech altered the dynamics, propelling Morocco to the top of the group and sending the Zambian team home. Ziyech’s goal marked his 22nd in 59 appearances for the Moroccan national team.

This outcome granted Ivory Coast an unexpected reprieve after their recent struggles in the tournament. Earlier, they had suffered a 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea and were on the verge of an early exit. Their hopes were briefly lifted when Ghana drew with Mozambique, leaving the Ivorians with a chance to progress by surpassing the record of another third-placed team.

With Guinea, Mauritania, and Namibia securing their spots, the pressure was on Ivory Coast, who needed a Moroccan victory over Zambia. Morocco, despite having already advanced and being without head coach Walid Regragui due to a suspension, demonstrated their determination by dominating the first half. Regragui received a four-match ban from the Confederation of African Football for post-match incidents in their previous game against DR Congo, of which two games have been suspended for a year.

The goal by Ziyech was a blow to Zambia’s Lawrence Mulenga, who had previously thwarted attempts from Ayoub El Kaabi and others. Despite his efforts, Zambia was limited to long-range attempts, with Lameck Banda and Emmanuel Banda narrowly missing the target. The Chipolopolo, who had not won an Afcon finals match since their surprise championship in 2012, failed to secure the necessary draw.

Morocco will now face South Africa in the knockout stages, while Ivory Coast, who recently dismissed coach Jean-Louis Gasset, are set for a challenging match against Senegal. This turn of events adds another layer to an already unpredictable and thrilling Afcon 2023.

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