Morocco secured their inaugural TotalEnergies U-23 Africa Cup of Nations championship title courtesy an exciting 2-1 victory over Egypt after extra time in the final at Rabat’s Moulay Abdellah Stadium on Saturday night.
Egypt got off to a strong start when Mahmoud Saber struck a brilliant curler into the top corner, giving his team the advantage just nine minutes into the game. However, Saber’s fortunes quickly turned sour as he was shown a red card eight minutes later for a reckless challenge on Abdessamad Ezzalzouli.
Despite being down to ten men, Egypt displayed resilience and managed to hold their ground for the remainder of regular time. However, their defense faltered in the 37th minute, allowing Yanis Begraoui to score the equalizer for the host nation.
With no further goals in both the first and second halves, the match entered extra time. It was during the first half of extra time that Morocco took the lead, marking the first time Egypt had trailed in the competition.
Substitute Oussamna Targhalline capitalized on a free kick from Ezzalzouli, unleashing a powerful strike that eluded the Egyptian goalkeeper, pushing the scoreline to 2-1 in favour of Morocco.
Despite Egypt’s efforts to secure a late equalizer, Morocco held on to claim victory and lift their first-ever TotalEnergies U-23 AFCON trophy.
Both Morocco and Egypt have now secured their places in next year’s Olympic Games, scheduled to be held in Paris. They will be joined by Mali, who secured their qualification after defeating Guinea in the third-place playoff on Saturday.
Guinea still has an opportunity to secure the fourth African spot at the Olympic Games in Paris, but they must win a playoff against an Asian opponent, which is yet to be determined.