Gambia shocks AFCON-bound Morocco in friendly

Morocco, one of the favourites to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, suffered a surprise 1-0 warm-up match loss in Marrakech on Wednesday to non-qualifiers the Gambia.

The unexpected outcome can partly be explained by Morocco coach Hervé Renard making numerous substitutions in the first of two friendly fixtures before heading to Egypt for the finals.

Musa Barrow, who plays for Italian Serie A club and 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League qualifiers, Atalanta, scored the match-winner on 27 minutes at Stade de Marrakech.

Mbark Boussoufa under-hit his pass to Mehdi Benatia, who was robbed of possession by Muhammed Badamosi.

Badamosi then played in Barrow down the left, who cut inside before hitting the ball with his right foot in to the back of the net via a deflection.

In the 90th minute, Noureddine Amrabat was played in down the right-hand side on the overlap and his cross came off the arm of Gambian replacement Jibril Bojang in the box with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

However, Fayçal Fajr’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Scorpions keeper Modou Jobe diving down smartly to his right to deny the Atlas Lions from salvaging a draw.

It was the second victory for the lowly-ranked Gambians over a Cup of Nations qualifier within six days after they defeated Guinea 1-0 last Friday in the same city.

Morocco are in Group D with fellow former champions the Ivory Coast and South Africa and rank outsiders Namibia.

The group is considered the toughest of the six to qualify from and only the winners and runners-up are guaranteed places in the round-of-16 knockout stage.