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Morocco edge scrappy Uganda to book WAFCON quarterfinal spot

2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations hosts Morocco faced stiff resistance from Uganda on Tuesday but prevailed for a 3-1 victory in Rabat to guarantee the Atlas Lionesses a spot in the quarterfinals. Rosella Ayane and Ghizlane Chebbak converted penalty kicks and Nessryne El Chad provided the go ahead goal in the second half for Morocco after Sumaya Komuntale leveled the match for Uganda in the first half. Morocco and Senegal lead Group A with six points each before their meeting on Friday and Uganda will battle Burkina Faso with both teams needing a win.

Morocco took control in the opening quarter hour and swift attacking play led to their 11th minute opener. Ayane latched onto a through ball near the corner of the Ugandan penalty area and cut past defender Margret Namirimu before being tripped up just inside the box. The foul was initially ignored by the referee but VAR intervened and awarded a penalty to Morocco, which was rolled in by Ayane past Uganda keeper Ruth Aturo.

The Crested Cranes fought back with urgency, however, and played with a bit more fearlessness before leveling the match in the 32nd minute. A free kick out wide did not appear to be a shooting opportunity but Komuntale produced an inspired delivery that snuck in past Morocco keeper Khadija Er-Rmichi at her near post. Fauzia Najjemba had a look to give Uganda the lead just before halftime but sent her shot wide after being sent in by an excellent pass from Ritah Kivumbi.

The hosts snatched back control after the halftime break, nearly taking the lead in the 49th minute when Ayane sent her first-time shot over the bar following an accurate cross from Fatima Tagnaout. A set piece would give Morocco their deserved lead in the 68th minute after Chebbak picked out El Chad with a precise free kick from out wide for the defender to flick her header past Aturo.

Late in the match the Atlas Lionesses sealed the win when Komuntale caught Ayane with a stray hand as she attempted to dribble out of her own penalty area, leading to another penalty following a VAR review as well as a second yellow card and expulsion for Komuntale. Chebbak had no problems sending her spot kick past Aturo to wrap up the victory.

Highlights are below.

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