The Atlas Lionesses of Morocco started off the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations on a positive note as the hosts defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 in Rabat for three points in the competition’s first match. Ghizlane Chabbak scored the game’s only goal off a direct free kick in the first half for Morocco, who will take on Uganda in their next match on Tuesday. Burkina Faso will look to give themselves a boost when they encounter Senegal next.
Morocco entered the match heavy favorites and had some excellent passing sequences that allowed the Atlas Lionesses to create chances on the counter. Their dominance of the ball met firm resistance from the Burkinabé defense and young goalkeeper Mariam Ouattara, who came up with an excellent save to deny Morocco’s Salma Amani and did well to catch the rebound.
Soon after the twenty minute mark Ouattara had to face a spot kick when Morocco’s Imane Saoud was knocked over at the edge of the penalty area by a tackle from Diamilitou Zongo. Following a long delay, Video Assistant Referee confirmed that the foul on Saoud was outside the box and Chabbak stepped up to curl her free kick on goal. The ball slipped under Ouattara as she dived in an attempt to make the save and the hosts were on top.
Ouattara and the defense did well to keep the Moroccan attack at bay after conceding and were able to make progress on the attack, where their best opportunities came from set pieces. Following a blocked shot attempt from a free kick in the 77th minute, Burkina Faso center back Madina Rouamba lifted a ball over the top to find the run of Limata Nikiéma. Morocco keeper Khadija Er-Rmichi did excellently to sprint out and make a play on the ball before she and Yasmin Mrabet combined to block Charlotte Millogo’s follow up attempt.
The Burkinabé defense continued to hold out against a barrage of Moroccan attacks and kept the hosts within reach but generally failed to threaten the Atlas Lionesses defense outside of a couple of looks from set pieces. However, the performance is promising for the debutants and it will be interesting to see if they can earn better results against Senegal and Uganda.
Highlights from Rabat are below.