Morocco was crowned U23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title winners after beating defending champions Egypt 2-1 in extra time at home in Rabat on Saturday (8 July).
The North Africans became only the fourth nation to lift the trophy since the football tournament was launched in 2011. Morocco finished runners-up in the inaugural tournament losing to Gabon 2-1 in Marrakech.
Egypt struck the first blow courtesy of a Mahmoud Saber Abdelmohsen Hassan goal 10 minutes into the contest giving his team a one-point lead. The defending champions were soon reduced to 10 men when Hassan was shown a card, just eight minutes after scoring his goal.
Egypt did well to hold on to their advantage despite being a man down, but the home equalised in the 37th minute when Yanis Begraoui found the back of the net. The stalemate held until the end of regulation time, sending the match into extra time.
Moroccan midfielder Oussama Targhalline found the breakthrough scoring the deciding goal from a free kick with the hosts hoisting the trophy.
Egypt would no doubt rue the effect of the red card. Before the final, they did not concede a single goal in the tournament. But Morocco made the best of the hand they were dealt bowing out of the competition without losing a single match.
The quadrennial football showpiece also served as the Olympic qualifier, with the top three finishers booking their places to Paris 2024. Egypt and Morocco secured their places at the Olympics by reaching the final.