Morocco vs. Cape Verde: Final score 1-1, Blue Sharks denied upset

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Morroco and Cape Verde battled it out to a 1-1 draw in a match in Durban that was desperately, desperately low on quality.

There wasn't much expected out of Cape Verde, but they went after Morocco in the first half and went ahead 36 minutes in. After Ryan Mendes tested Nadir Lamyaghri with a free kick from just outside the box -- the goalkeeper came up with a good diving save to beat away the low effort -- the minnows were able to profit from a Karim El-Ahmadi error to take the lead. Mendes was again involved, breaking at speed down the centre before splitting the centre backs with a neat pass to Platini.

Although Platini was behind the defence, he still had plenty of work to do. Lamyaghri came flying out of his net to block off the striker, but Platini responded with a deft little left-footed chip that bounced once before settling in the back of the net. It was the Blue Sharks' first goal in Africa Cup of Nations play.

Morocco should have responded by throwing bodies forward, but Lions of the Atlas' attacks -- despite boasting the likes of Montpellier playmaker Younes Belhanda -- were at best tentative and easily beaten away by Cape Verde's defence. The early stages of the second half saw more or less the same pattern, with Morocco importent while the Blue Sharks attacked with significantly more verve.

News got even worse for Morocco when Belhanda went into Janny Sikazwe's book for a woeful studs-up challenge, ruling him out for the match against South Africa. He was immediately removed by Rachid Taoussi for his idiotic tackle, and that move suddenly led to rest of Morocco's attackers starting to take the match a little more seriously.

Aston Villa man El Ahmadi looked almost certain to score when the ball fell to him in the box, but the Blue Sharks defence was able to scramble clear. They had no such luck when Youssef El Arabi was picked out by a neat cross from Abdelaziz Barrada; the substitute fired through a tangle of legs to beat Vozinha with 78 minutes elapsed.

Heldon had a decent enough change to reply at the other end of the pitch but his weak shot failed to trouble Lamyaghri, who fell gratefully on the ball as it trickled amiably towards the line. Meanwhile, Morocco continued to attack, and El Arabi came close to his second with a wayward header while unmarked on a corner kick.

Ultimately, however, Morocco couldn't get their second goal as they and the Blue Sharks spent the entirety of injury time in a crazy back-and-forth match. It was a fun end to what was, in truth, a rather dull game.

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