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Morocco 1-0 Ghana: Black Stars suffer defeat in Group C opener

Ghana kicked off the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in defeat after losing to Morocco in their opening Group C game.

Black Stars suffer defeat in Group C opener

The Black Stars were largely passive and were punished for their profligacy in the second half when Sofiane Boufal took advantage of a defensive lapse to score what proved to be the winner.

Milovan Rajevac named a very strong line-up but also picked five debutants for the game against the Atlas Lions.

Joojo Wollacot, Alexander Djiku, Joseph Paintsil, Baba Iddrisu and Kamaldeen Sulemana all started their first AFCON game, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew and Thomas Partey bringing experience to the team.

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And the Black Stars made a quick start to the game, with their early pressure earning them three corner-kicks in succession.

However, Ghana couldn’t produce anything meaningful from their attempts, which allowed Morocco to grow into the game.

The North Africans proved dangerous on set-pieces, with Roman Saiss using his height to terrorise the Black Stars defense.

The first real chance of the game came in the 32nd minute when Partey’s 35-yard free-kick flew just inches wide.

Morocco responded with an effort of their own with Selim Amallah displacing his marker before firing his effort over the bar. Paintsil had Ghana’s best chance of the first when he dribbled past two players to open up space but his shot was way off target.

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The second half started pretty much like the first, with Morocco dominating possession and the Black Stars sitting deep.

And it didn’t take long for the Atlas Lions to launch their first attack, as Sofiane Boufal tried his luck from the outside of the box but his effort couldn’t find the back of the net.

A few minutes later, Paintsil nearly put Ghana in front but his curling effort was tipped over for a corner-kick by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

Andre Ayew was the next to test the Moroccan goal but his header was too feeble to trouble the goalkeeper.

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Morocco finally found the breakthrough in the 82nd minute when Boufal took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score the opening goal.

Rajevac left it late to effect his changes, bringing on Fatawu Issahaku, Daniel Kyere and Benjamin Tetteh in the final 10 minutes but the substitutes had very little effect as the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Atlas Lions.

The Black Stars will face Gabon in their second Group C game on Friday.

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