21.01.2018 22:20 h

Morocco top table despite missing penalty

Hosts and title favourites Morocco had a penalty saved as they drew 0-0 with Sudan Sunday to top Group A at the African Nations Championship.

Morocco and Sudan had already qualified, having won their first two group matches in the biennial competition for local-based footballers.

Guinea, who sacked coach Kanfory Lappe Bangoura after being eliminated last Wednesday, came third through a 1-0 win over Mauritania in a match played simultaneously in Marrakech.

Morocco coach Jamal Sellami made 10 changes to the team that started against Guinea four days ago, with five-goal leading scorer Ayoub el Kaabi among those rested.

Achraf Bencharki, a star of the Wydad Casablanca 2017 CAF Champions League-winning team, made his first start after coming off the bench in the previous two matches.

He had the best chance to break the deadlock, but his 50th-minute penalty was brilliantly parried away from danger by Sudan goalkeeper Akram Elhadi Salim.

The Sudanese shot-stopper, who skippered the team until first-choice captain Mohamed Tahir was introduced during the second half, made several other fine saves.

Morocco concentrated on retaining possession in the closing stages, knowing a draw would keep them in first place and that they would remain in Casablanca for the quarter-finals.

The host nation will face the Group B runners-up, probably debutants Namibia, next Saturday a few hours before Sudan tackle the Group B winners, most likely Zambia, in Marrakech.

Namibia and Zambia have qualified from Group B after two wins each and meet in Casablanca Monday to decide who finishes top of the table.

A goal from captain Ibrahim Sory Sankhon on 15 minutes gave Guinea victory over Mauritania in a west African derby where only pride was at stake.

The defeat means the Mauritanians have lost all six matches in two appearances at the Nations Championship.