By Albert Akota
Nigeria will look to upset hosts Morocco in the 2018 African Nations Championship final, set for the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Sunday evening, kick-off at 21h00 CAT.
The Atlas Lions and the Super Eagles are bidding to become the fourth different winners of the CHAN, joining the honours board of DR Congo (champions in 2009 and 2016), Tunisia (2014) and Libya (2014).
Both sides came through tough semifinals on Wednesday evening: Morocco needed extra time to overcome a resilient Libya 3-1 in their North African derby in Casablanca, while Nigeria edged Sudan 1-0 in a hard-fought clash in Marrakech.
Morocco coach Jamal Sellami paid tribute to his team after their victory, which was inspired by a brace from striker Ayoub El Kaabi. He has now netted eight times in this CHAN tournament.
“I congratulate my players, who made a great match despite the difficulties they faced,” said Sellami after the clash with Libya.
“We were opposed to an organised selection that caused us a lot of problems.
“The fatigue of the Libyan players has done us a great service,” he admitted. “No matter who our opponent is in the final, what matters is the state of my players.”
As for Nigeria, they have come good on their coach Salisu Yusuf’s promise that they would reach the final of the CHAN, with Gabriel Okechukwu’s goal securing victory over Sudan.
“Our target is the trophy, no less,” said the Nigeria coach, who added: “Reaching the final alone will mean history for this team.
“The final of the African Nations Championship beckons and we will go out there with all that we have got.”
In head-to-head statistics, Morocco and Nigeria have met in 12 official matches according to FIFA’s database. Each side has claimed five wins, while two games have been drawn.
The teams’ most recent meeting was in the 2014 edition of the CHAN, with the Super Eagles claiming a thrilling 4-3 victory after extra time in the teams’ quarterfinal clash in Cape Town. The West African came from 0-3 down to win the match.