Morocco gifted opening Africa Cup of Nations win as Namibia concede late own goal

Morocco's Mbark Boussoufa celebrates after Namibia's Itamunua Keimuine scored an own goal and Morocco's first in their Africa Cup of Nations clash in Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 23 June 2019
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Morocco gifted opening Africa Cup of Nations win as Namibia concede late own goal

  • Relief was etched on the face of Morocco coach Herve Renard as the final whistle blew
  • It was cruel blow for the minnows from southern Africa

CAIRO: Namibian Itamunua Keimuine headed an 89th-minute Hakim Ziyech free-kick into his own net to gift Morocco a 1-0 victory Sunday in the opening Africa Cup of Nations Group D match.
It was cruel blow for the minnows from southern Africa, who lived up to their Brave Warriors nickname by taming the much-vaunted Atlas Lions.
Relief was etched on the face of Morocco coach Herve Renard as the final whistle blew after an unconvincing start by one of the competition favorites.
Renard is the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with two countries, guiding outsiders Zambia and previous underachievers the Ivory Coast to success between 2012 and 2015.
As the match kicked off in 36 degree celsius (97 fahrenheit) heat at the Al Salam Stadium, the bookmakers, the FIFA rankings and Cup of Nations history favored Morocco.
Morocco are 10/1 joint fifth favorites with bookmakers to win the title, 43 years after the only time they lifted a trophy that symbolizes African national team supremacy.
The Atlas Lions lie 66 places above the Brave Warriors in the FIFA world rankings and they triumphed 5-1 on the previous occasion the countries met, 11 years ago.
However, while Morocco enjoyed 60 percent possession during the opening 45 minutes in the sweltering Egyptian capital, they rarely troubled Namibia goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua.
It was a defender, right-back Nabil Dirar, who came closest to ending the stalemate with a fiercely struck 11th-minute shot from long range that flew just over the crossbar.
This was one of six goal attempts by the north Africans during the first half, but only two were on target, while both Namibian efforts went wide.
Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti had warned his Group D opponents before the tournament that “even small dogs bite” and his side were a calm, well-organized outfit in the first half.
The second half was a replica of the first with Morocco pressing continuously and Namibia defending with discipline and intelligence.
Renard introduced Sofiane Boufal, who played for Celta Vigo in La Liga last season on loan from Southampton, and Karim el Ahmadi in an effort to break the deadlock.
The French coach played his final card on 78 minutes, introducing Khalid Boutaib, a familiar figure to Egyptians as he plays for famed Cairo club Zamalek.
Ivory Coast face South Africa Monday at the same stadium in a Group D showdown of former Cup of Nations winners.


Sri Lanka 244 all out in 1st innings of 2nd test vs New Zealand

Updated 24 August 2019
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Sri Lanka 244 all out in 1st innings of 2nd test vs New Zealand

  • New Zealand batted for two overs and went to lunch on the third day at one run without loss
  • Sri Lanka won the first test by six wickets in Galle and looks to sweep the two-test series

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Dhananjaya de Silva scored his fifth test century to rally Sri Lanka from trouble and reach a competitive 244 runs in the first innings of the second test against New Zealand on Saturday.
New Zealand batted for two overs and went to lunch on the third day at one run without loss.
De Silva walked in to bat when Sri Lanka was 93 for four and saw quick wickets fall at the other end pushing Sri Lanka to 131 for six. He survived at nine when fast bowler Trent Boult dropped an easy high catch off his own bowling; but he made good his luck and held the Sri Lanka innings together facing 148 deliveries hitting 16 boundaries and a six.
He shared 41 runs with No. 8 batsman Dilruwan Perera (13) and 43 runs with Suranga Lakmal (10) at No.9.
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne made 65 while opening the batting.
Sri Lanka resumed day three at 144 for six and left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel trapped Perera lbw for New Zealand’s first breakthrough for the day.
Fast bowler Tim Southee continued his good run from the second day, taking two more wickets to finish with four for 63. Boult had three for 75.
Sri Lanka won the first test by six wickets in Galle and looks to sweep the two-test series.