The 6th edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) started on January 16 – 2021, with the competition being pushed back from its original beginning date in April 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the beginning of the competition, hosted by Cameroon, all the participating teams have demonstrated why they qualified to this soccer tournament, with excellent performances.
The skills, goals and masterclass play from each team has been marvelous up until the finals when Defending Champions Morocco and West African team Mali cruised their way through to the finals of the competition. Before the finals, Guinea crushed the host country Cameroon 2-0 in Douala on Saturday in the third-place playoff.
Guinea’s Morlaye Sylla scored his third goal and Mamadouba Bangoura his first at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) as they won the day. Sylla put the Elephants ahead on nine minutes in the waterfront city by spilling past a few opponents prior to releasing a shot that was redirected by Pierre Etame over goalkeeper Haschou Kerrido into the net.
Cameroon’s Defender Etame committed a slight error in the first half stoppage time as he wondered whether or not to seek after Guinea’s Bangoura, hanging tight for an offside call, but the Guinean immediately exploited to score.
Host Cameroon performed better in the first half, dominating possession, but could not find a way past impressive Guinea’s goalkeeper Moussa Camara.
Meanwhile, the Atlas Lions of Morocco beat Mali 2-0 in the FINAL, with all second-half goals coming through corner kicks. Defender Soufiane Bouftini opened the score with a strong header at the 69th minute, while team captain Ayoub El Kaabi sealed the win at the 80th minute.
The game which took place in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde, marked the end of the three weeks of fierce competition for the CHAN title. Additionally, Morocco scored 15 goals in the tournament, which is more than any other team.
Morocco began the competition in Group C, alongside Togo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Morocco’s first two performances — a 1-0 win against Togo and a 0-0 draw versus Rwanda — were unconvincing and planted doubts in many fans.
However, in the third game, the Moroccan team appeared to finally regain their ‘power’ and thrashed Uganda 5-2, finishing the group stage at the top.
Morocco proceeded to beat Zambia 3-1 in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, the Moroccan team eliminated the tournament’s hosts, Cameroon, with a dominating 4-0 score, sending a strong message to their opponents in the final.
Mali had a relatively less impressive journey. Despite finishing the group stage at the top of Group A, ahead of Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe, the Eagles reached the final through two penalty shootouts.
In both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, against Congo and Guinea respectively, Mali won 5-4 through penalties, after the games ended in 0-0 draws.
Morocco’s achievement today makes the Atlas Lions, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, the team with the most CHAN titles. Morocco is also the only team so far to win the competition two times in a row.