WISSAM DEHBI / AIPS* in FUJAIRAH: Cote d’Ivoire continued their recovery from a bad start at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 to beat Morocco 2-1 and reach the quater-finals.
Morocco, even though they had topped Group C, had hoped that in the second round at least they would avoid such strong opponents.
They kicked off hoping for revenge over the Elephants who had beaten Morocco in the semi-finals of the last African Cup of Nations.
They had improved since that loss and this had been proved in the first round while the Ivorians had lost their sparkle and had qualified for the last 16 only as one the best third-placed teams.
Moroccan coach Abdellah Idrissi called on Juventus young talent Younes Bnou Marzouk who had not played a major role in the two first games.
The Ivorians dominated from the start, taking the Moroccan team by surprise, and were awarded a penalty for a foul on Moussa Bakayako after only three minutes. Captain Franck Kessie made no mistake from the spot.
In the 19th minute Moroccan goalkeeper Oussayd Blekouch kept his team’s chances alive when he saved a dangerous strike by Meite Yakou as the Ivorians continued to dominate against a Moroccan team far short of their previous performances.
In the second half the Atlas Lion Cubs grew more aggressive and, despite having been almost invisible, Bnou Marzouk gave his team hope by an equaliser in the 56th minute with a powerful shot.
But the Moroccan comeback lasted only a few minutes before Ivorian striker Junior Ahissan scored their second goal, punishing a naïve mistake by Mohamed Saoud and securing a 2-1 victory for the Elephants.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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