The senior women’s team of Morocco pulled off an upset against continent’s powerhouse Cameroon as the Atlas Lionesses secured a stunning 1-0 victory over the Indomitable Lionesses in Thursday’s Aisha Buhari Cup encounter in Lagos.
The North Africans continued from where they left off in June’s doubleheader wins over Mali to condemn new Cameroon coach Gabriel Zabo to a defeat in his first game in charge.
This means the Indomitable Lionesses’ quest to bounce back to winning ways after April’s Tokyo 2020 qualifying playoffs defeat to Chile was just a wish. The Lionesses made the early incursions in the game as they pushed forward in large numbers in search of an early goal. However, they could not beat Morocco goalkeeper Errmichi Khadija.
Rose Bella came close twice and Gabrielle Onguene’s brilliant effort came off the crossbar for Cameroon. Yet, the clinical Moroccan defense forced a goalless draw at half time at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan.
However, in the second half, Reynald Pedros’ side made the best of their golden opportunity when Fatima Tagnaout got on the end of a fine counterattack to grab the 78th minute winner. Tagnaout’s strike was curial as it turned out to be a sweet vengeance for their 3-0 African Games defeat to the Central Africans in August 2019.
Morocco vs. Mali
Morocco had earlier won a doubleheader friendly against their next opponents, Mali, this year. As such, the Moroccans will hope to extend their dominance when they clash with the West African nation in their final match on Sunday, September 19.
On the other hand, Cameroon will look to record their first win of 2021 when they meet Ghana in their final game of the invitational tournament on Monday, September 20.
After the game, Morocco’s head coach Reynald Pedros said they are still not at their best yet, despite the win over the Lionesses.
“We have really worked hard to get to this stage. You could see that both foreign and home based players played without fear and because they wanted to win. We are not at our best yet, but still work in progress. We are working mostly to develop the players at home (in Morocco). When they are joined by those abroad, it will be a great combination. We won today’s (Thursday) game because the players were really determined to win.”Reynald Pedros
Morocco hopeful for another win
The Moroccan captain, Hanane Ait ElHaj, said her team really worked hard for the win. As such, she expressed optimism that the team will improve in their next game.
“It means a lot to us because we worked very hard for it. I want to thank everyone for the great result today. We came here (Lagos) with the aim to win and also improve ourselves. We know that the teams we are playing are the powerhouses on the continent, so we were eager to also assess our level. We are also hoping to continue to show everyone in Africa that we are also a good and exciting team to watch”.Hanane Ait ElHaj
Meanwhile, Cameroon captain Gabrielle Onguene congratulated Morocco for the win, stating that they really worked for the win.
“I want to congratulate Morocco for today’s victory. They really worked hard for it and fully deserved the win. They had one opportunity in the match and took it but we didn’t take any of our several chances. In the spirit of sportsmanship, we accept defeat and congratulate Morocco once again”.Gabrielle Onguene
On the opening day, Nigeria beat Mali 2-0 to kick-start their campaign on a brighter note as the tournament’s favorites and hosts. Meanwhile, the Black Queens of Ghana will take on the Bayana Bayana of South Africa today in another fascinating encounter.
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