MOROCCO were made to pay a huge price for missing a horde of scoring chances when Burkina Faso scored a last gasp goal to deny them maximum points in the second Group B game at Athlone Stadium on Thursday night.
The Atlas Lions who scored in the opening minute of the game, could have wrapped up the match inside the first 45 minutes. But having taken the lead, spurned one chance after the other and were made to rue those chances as the Stallions of Burkina Faso stole an unlikely equaliser to earn a share of the spoils.
It was hardly a result the North Africans deserved as they dominated most of the proceedings and by half-time could have sealed the match. But as fate would have it, they were made to pay the huge price.
Chances came thick and fast from the word go and it was no surprise when Morocco took the lead in the opening minute, making this by far the quickest goal of the tournament. Striker Brahim El Bahri finished off a well constructed goal which started from the back to put the Atlas Lions in front.
Shell-shocked, Burkina Faso replied almost immediately. Youssouf Kabore’s long range shot just narrowly missed the target as the frenetic pace of the match kept fans on their feet.
In the 10th minute, Bahri’s snap shot was well saved by Mohamed Kabore in goals for the Stallions as the Moroccans threatened to run riot.
Morocco were proving too hot to handle and by the 20th minute, had forced several attempts at goal to none for the Burkinabe. The North Africans were proving too superior for their outgunned West Africans who hardly fashioned a single descent attempt at goal apart from gilt-edged chances.
Bahri was really proving a handful for the Burkina Faso defence and on the 25th minute, again fashioned another chance that narrowly went wide after Kabore had narrowed the angle.
Abdessamad Rafik then saw his shot cleared off the line as Morocco laid siege on the Stallions goal area. A minute late Abdelkbir El Ouadi again sliced his shot wide as the Burkinabe hang on for dear life. By half-time, it could easily have been 4-0 but the Atlas Lions spurned a host of easy chances.
The 1-0 halftime lead was definitely not a true reflection of how Morocco dominated the opening stanza as fears grew that they would later live to regret those opportunities.
And true to those fears, Bassirou Ouedraogo could have equalised for Burkina Faso a minute after resumption but after sprinting past the Morocco defence, saw his well-taken effort brilliantly saved by Nadir Lamyaghiri in goals for Morocco.
It was a completely new-look Burkina Faso after the break as they looked more refreshed and had full of running. But there was always a risk of being caught on the break by the tactically astute Moroccans.
The Stallions were really proving a handful and full of running and on various occasions threatened the turn the tables. They literally threw everything into the second half, looking boisterous but somehow the equaliser proved elusive.
All in all, the match was turning into a classic of an encounter.
Kabore’s long range effort failed to trouble Lamyaghiri as frustration started to creep into the Burkinabe play.
Morocco could have earned a penalty in the 80th minute after M’bah Kone appeared to have brought down substitute Zakaria Hadraf but referee Mahamadou Keita of Mali waved play on.
Morocco were then duly punished in the 89th minute for their indiscretion when Bassirou Ouedraogo finished off a sweeping move to earn his side an unlikely draw.
Morocco were almost rewarded with an own goal by Burkina Faso left back Yelleboure Sango whose attempted clearance missed the goal by centimetres.
In another Group B match Zimbabwe and Uganda played to a goalless draw.