Morocco came from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw with hosts Ivory Coast in an international friendly played at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan on Saturday evening.
Atlas Lions striker Ayoub El Kaabi struck a second-half equaliser after Sebastian Haller had put the Elephants ahead in injury time prior to the interval, as the teams played to a stalemate in preparation for both the 2026 World Cup qualifiers (starting next month) and the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations – which will be staged in the Ivory Coast in early 2024.
Through the first half, Morocco enjoyed more of the ball but it was the Ivory Coast who were the more penetrative team in attack, using the pace and power of Jonathan Bamba and Sebastien Haller to stretch the visitors’ defence.
The Elephants forced Atlas Lions goalkeeper Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou into several saves through the first 45 minutes, but finally had the beating of him in injury time before the interval, as Bamba led a swift counter attack before playing a perfectly-weighted pass for Haller, who provided an elegant finish for 1-0.
The second stanza continued in a similar vein to the first, with the North African side seeing plenty of the ball, but often looking vulnerable to the counter attacking abilities of the hosts, who freshened their forward line with the introductions of Wilfried Zaha and Simon Adingra midway through the half.
However, Morocco levelled the game in the 81st minute via substitute Ayoub El Kaabi, who latched onto a poor touch from Ivory Coast’s Abakar Sylla in his own penalty area and squeezed a shot past goalkeeper Yahia Fofana to make it 1-1.
Ivory Coast will next be in action on Tuesday 17 October when they host South Africa at the same venue in Abidjan.
Ivory Coast (1) 1 (Haller 45+3’)
Morocco (0) 1 (El Kaabi 81’)
Ivory Coast: Y. Fofana, Singo, Diomande, Ndicka, Konan (Sylla 78’), S. Fofana, Kessie (Kouame 90+3’), I. Sangare, Bamba (Adingra 66’), Diakite (Zaha 66’), Haller (Hamed 78’)
Morocco: Bono, Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Mazraoui (Khannouss 65’), Attiyat Allah, Harit (Ezzalzouli 67’), Ounahi (Abdelhamid 90+4’), Amallah (Richardson 78’), Adli (Saibari 77’), En Nesyri (El Kaabi 77’)