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Morocco’s host and win AWCON dream on course, get WWC ticket too

BY: Rosalind K. Amoh
Ghizlane Chebbak of Morocco celebrates goal during the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations match between Morocco and Burkina Faso held at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco on 02 July 2022
Ghizlane Chebbak of Morocco celebrates goal during the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations match between Morocco and Burkina Faso held at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco on 02 July 2022

Morocco, hosting their first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON), have kept their host and win dream on course after dismissing debutants, Botswana 2-1 in their quarter-finals encounter on Wednesday evening.

That victory also earned the Atlas Lionesses a place among the 2023 Women’s World Cup (WWC) list, picking the second of Africa’s four slots, hours after Zambia had picked their first.

On a night that saw the entire Morocco nation support their team, with a full capacity attendance at the 53,000 seating Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Morocco showed their intent right from the start, piling the pressure on the young Botswana side.

They got an instant reward for it, as barely had the game kicked off than they got a goal in the third minute, with Sanaâ Mssoudy striking.

That effort was greeted with a spontaneous celebration in the stands, but their joy was short lived as four minutes later, Botswana equalised from a beautiful strike from Keitumetse Dithebe.

That may have stunned both the team and their fans, as momentarily the stadium went quiet, but in no time, the pressure was back on and the cheers grew louder in the stands. But the young Botswana team held their own and warded off the relentless attack to end the first half.
When the second half resumed, the hosts continued from where they left off, hoping to get another early goal. They had to wait till the 59th minute however, before getting the desired result, this time, a connection from Yasmin Katie Mrabet.

Knowing what the Southern Africans were capable of doing to their dream, the celebration was cut short, the energy put into keeping the troublesome Mares, as the Tswanis are called, at bay till the final whistle by Togolese referee, Vincentia Amedome.

The joy and relief among most Moroccans was understandable. After failing in 1998 and 2000 to be part of the WAFCON history, they have had to wait till 2022 to push their way through as hosts, having failed previously to even qualify.

Now that they are in, they intend to make the most of it, perhaps, joining Equatorial Guinea (2008, 2012) as the only side beside record title winners, Nigeria, to host and win the WAFCON.

Along with that hope is the priceless bonus reward of being among the teams to be on the stage for the world’s best sides, the WWC.