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El Kaabi hits ninth goal as Morocco whip Nigeria


Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) – Ayoub el Kaabi scored his ninth goal of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) as Morocco became the first hosts to triumph by thrashing 10-man Nigeria 4-0 Sunday in a Casablanca downpour.

With Nigeria in disarray and the match long over as a contest, the previously little known striker completed his record-extending goal haul by firing into the net from close range.

Zakaria Hadraf put the home team ahead at Stade Mohammed V on the stroke of half-time and added the match-clinching third goal midway through the second half.

In between the first goals of the tournament for Hadraf, fellow midfielder Mohamed el Karti netted soon after Nigerian attacker Eneji Moses was red-carded following a second caution.

It was a record winning margin for a CHAN final, bettering the three-goal victories of Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.   

Morocco pocketed a record $1.25 million (about one million euros) having justified their pre-tournament role as favourites to win the fifth edition of the CHAN.  

Sudan performed best of the four previous host nations, finishing third. Rwanda made the quarter-finals and the Ivory Coast and South Africa exited after the first round.  

Morocco also became the first champions to win five of six matches — defeating Mauritania, Guinea, Namibia and Libya before overwhelming Nigeria.

The only blemish was partly self inflicted as they fielded a virtual reserve side in a goalless draw with Sudan after both nations had secured last-eight places.  

El Kaabi had a goal disallowed and struck the woodwork before Hadraf sidefooted a cut-back between the legs of goalkeeper Oladele Ajiboye for a 45th-minute lead.

After Moses had been sent off, Morocco took control and Nigeria fell apart with some comical defending contributing to their downfall.

El Karti made it 2-0 just past the hour, Hadraf completed his brace three minutes later and player-of-the-tournament El Kaabi completed the rout with 73 minutes gone.

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