Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Cape Verde denied historic win by Morocco
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Cape Verde are denied first their win by Morocco after Youssef El-Arabi's late leveller
Cape Verde still have hopes of a quarter-final place but were denied their first Africa Cup of Nations victory as Youssef El-Arabi’s late finish drew Morocco level to leave Group A wide open.
Luis Platini took the honour of being Cape Verde’s first goal-scorer in a major tournament before substitute El-Arabi levelled for Morocco with ten minutes remaining.
Cape Verde – the smallest country to ever compete in a Nations Cup – started strongly, with Julio Tavares’s headed effort tipped over the bar by Nadir Lamyaghri.
After a nervy opening exchange between both sides, Morocco’s Abderrahim Achchakir was first to test Cape Verde’s goalkeeper Vozinha with a smartly saved low driven effort.
Despite struggling to retain possession, Cape Verde were next to force a save from Lamyaghri after Lille winger Ryan Mendes’s free-kick in the 21st minute.
The Blue Sharks continued to pressurise Morocco’s goalkeeper Lamyaghri, who elected to punch efforts from Nivaldo and Marco Soares as the game approached the half-hour mark.
Cape Verde scored their first Africa Cup of Nations goal in the 31st minute when Platini latched onto Ryan Mendes’s through ball to deftly chip home.
The Morocco side – without Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh and QPR’s Adel Taarabt in the squad – were struggling to find creativity and managed one first half shot.
The islanders persisted to threaten the Moroccan goal in the second half with dutch-based Fernando Verela’s cross finding captain Nando, but his header looped over the bar.
Morocco changed things with 30 minutes remaining as Montpellier playmaker Younnes Belhanda and Liverpool’s Oussama Assaidi were substituted.
The Atlas Lions – 1976 Africa Cup of Nations champions – started their opening second-half with an effort from Abdelaziz Barrada’s 68th minute free-kick, that rose over the bar.
Moments later the Moroccans looked menacing once more as former Spurs man Mounir El Hamdaoui blazed over.
And in the 78th minute Morocco levelled the match when unmarked substitute El-Arabi swept the ball into the net after Barrada’s cut back.
Cape Verde survived a late onslaught of Moroccan chances, to grab a share of the spoils in Durban, ahead of their Pool A clash with Angola.