The African Cup Of Nations, currently taking place in Egypt is getting more interesting, especially with some unsettling results beginning to spring up from rocky plains. It's the knockout stages already and some teams have been thought some bitter lessons. As some will say, "it's that stage of the game when the Men are separated from the boys."
However, after the first round of 16 match between Morocco and Republic of Benin that saw the presumed "boys" qualify to the quarter finals, one will have to reconsider whether it's the boys or the men that will have to leave the tournament more earlier than we thought. Morocco came into the game as the overwhelming favorites, not only against Benin but in the competition generally.
After 1-1 draw at 90 minutes Normal play, a resilient Benin side dragged the Moroccans to a penalty shootout, where they emerged victorious and booked a place at the quarter finals. The teams in this tournament have been too physical, and I wasn't surprised when Benin already got themselves two bookings with just 10 minutes played in the game. Even with a red card, they refused to throw in the towel and held on against a highflying Moroccan side.
Despite winning all three games of their group stage, Morocco were unable to unsettle a Benin side that never won any team in the first stage of the competition and even qualified to the knockout stage as one of the best third place teams. What other lesson have one not learnt from this game of football. It always boils down to that same old saying, "never underrate any team in the game of soccer."
No matter how we may not wanna blame a particular player for the misfortune of the team, I still think the Moroccan star man Hakim Ziyach won't be privileged of that exoneration. His profligacy during the normal playing time would have perhaps incurred a lesser criticism if he had scored his penalty just few seconds before the referee signalled the end of normal time play. He has been unable to replicate his feat in Ajax with the national team, and all his efforts seemed to be below his standards.
The Benin side played out their heart, not disheartened by the sending off of Khaled Adenon in extra time. They defended as a unit and came out of the furnace unscathed after Sofiane Boufal and En-Nesyri of Morocco missed their penalties. The penalty finished 4-1 in favour of Benin Republic, as they book a place for the first time in the continental quarter finals. Despite Boufal having the highest dribbles(14) so far in the competition, it was not enough to break through the walls of Benin.