Mane, Hakimi take Senegal and Morocco into AFCON quarter-finals

Morocco and 2019 runners-up Senegal cruise into the quarterfinals after beating Malawi and Cape Verde.

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Round of 16 - Morocco v Malawi - Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde, Cameroon - January 25, 2022 Morocco's Sofiane Boufal in action with Malawi's Richard Mbulu REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Morocco booked their place in the AFCON quarter-finals as Achraf Hakimi's stunning free kick sealed a 2-1 win over Malawi [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Achraf Hakimi scored a brilliant free kick to send Morocco through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a win over Malawi.

Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first-ever knockout game at the tournament, a shock early lead on Tuesday with a stunning goal from 40 metres at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.

But Youssef En-Nesyri headed Morocco level in first-half stoppage time before Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last-eight.

“When you win, you get respect,” said Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic. “Malawi scored a fantastic goal. I think we played really well in the first half, unfortunately, we lacked efficiency. We had around 10 chances you can’t miss.

“But I was always confident. The team was upset but I knew at some point we would score a second goal. We controlled the match and we more than deserve to qualify.”

Morocco’s quarter-final tie was due to take place at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde but will be moved after a fatal crush outside the ground on Monday which killed eight people and injured 38.

Also on Tuesday, Senegal followed Morocco into the quarterfinals after beating nine-man Cape Verde 2-0 in Bafoussam.

Josimar “Vozinha” Dias raced out of his area and tried to head a ball clear with Sadio Mane chasing it down.

The players’ heads clashed badly as they leaped in the air and Vozinha clearly sustained a concussion as he tried to get up afterward and ended up staggering around.

Vozinha left on a stretcher and was not around to see the red card referee Lahlou Benbraham held up for him.

Mane was allowed to continue after he hit the ground face first following the collision. He rolled over and lay still on his back for a moment, clearly dazed, possibly with a concussion.

He dragged himself to his feet and scored less than 10 minutes later in the 63rd minute.

Bamba Dieng, who replaced Mane, added a second goal two minutes into added time after a breakaway left a single Cape Verde defender facing two Senegalese attackers.

Senegal, seeking to win the flagship African competition for the first time after twice finishing runners-up, will meet Mali or Equatorial Guinea on Sunday in the quarter-finals.

Source: News Agencies