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Morocco Atlas Lions hold Angola to 0-0 draw on 1st day of Nations Cup – AP/BBC

Angola misfires on chance for header off corner kick in waning minutes of 0-0 draw with Morocco's Atlas Lions at AFCON

Angola players misfire on chance for header off a corner kick in the waning minutes of 0-0 draw with Morocco’s Atlas Lions on the first day at Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

**Morocco v Angola – Watch Replay on ESPN3**

Associated Press/AP, and BBC Sport, by Stephen Fottrell (Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan. 19, 2013) — Morocco and Angola drew 0-0 in the African Cup of Nations on Saturday,  leaving the continent’s top tournament without a goal after the opening two  games in South Africa.

The  Moroccans and Angolans created chances at Soccer City, including two in the  first five minutes, but failed to convert to leave Group A goalless after 180  minutes.

Host  South Africa was held to 0-0 by Cape Verde in the same stadium earlier on  Saturday.

Morocco's Mounir El Hamdaoui, left, is challenged by Angola's Dede de Carvalho, center, during their African Cup of Nations group A soccer match at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, South Africa, Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. Photo: Themba Hadebe

Morocco’s Mounir El Hamdaoui, left, is challenged by Angola’s Dede de Carvalho, center, during African Cup of Nations group A soccer match in Soweto, S. Africa, Jan. 19, 2013. (Themba Hadebe)

Mingo  Bile hit a low skidding shot for Angola in the second minute, forcing goalkeeper Nadir  Lamyaghri to parry. Morocco replied with a rasping drive by Karim  El Hamdaoui that Lama saved.

In  the second half, Angola’s Alfonso  Guilherme missed an open goal and Manucho sent a diving header wide right at  the end.

Morocco's Nordin Amrabat, top left, is challenged by Angola's Massunguna Afonso, bottom, and teammate Pirolito Panzo, top right, during their African Cup of Nations group A soccer match

Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat, top left, is challenged by Angola’s Massunguna Afonso, bottom, and teammate Pirolito Panzo, top right, during their African Cup of Nations group A soccer match.

More PHOTOS and Match Analysis from BBC

The second Group A game of the day had its share of opportunities, but neither side was able to break the deadlock.

Moroccan playmaker Younes Belhanda almost forced a winner as he dribbled through the Angolan defence, but dragged narrowly wide at the near post.

Angolan debutant Guilherme Afonso nearly punished Morocco keeper Nadir Lamyaghri’s fumble, only to lob wide.

The second tie of a double-header at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg had started much brighter than the opening goalless draw between hosts South Africa and Cape Verde.

Morocco's Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, right, is challenged by Angola's 'Pirolito' Panzo during their African Cup of Nations Group A soccer match in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.

Morocco’s Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, right, is challenged by Angola’s ‘Pirolito’ Panzo during their African Cup of Nations Group A soccer match.

The Atlas Lions were forced to begin their campaign without inspirational playmaker Younes Belhanda in the starting line-up, after he had struggled in the build-up with an adductor injury, but would be forced into introducing the influential Montpellier man in the second half.

Angola had the first real attempt on target, as Mingo Bille stung Lamyaghri’s fingertips with a well-hit low drive.

Morocco quickly attempted to stamp their authority on the game, with Abdelaziz Barrada and Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi looking to force the play in the Angolan half.

It was a lively first quarter for the Moroccans, who sought to create opportunities with every passage of play and they went close through Assaidi, who jinked inside the box, only to blaze over.

Angola's forwards Manucho (top) and Guilherme Afonso react as chances go begging against Morocco. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

Angola’s forwards Manucho (top) and Guilherme Afonso react as chances go begging against Morocco. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

The Palancas Negras’ early attempts to get a foothold in the game were laboured, as they struggled to link up midfield and attack, and failed to commit numbers forward on the break.

Former Manchester United striker Manucho was lucky to stay on the pitch, as he rashly dived in on Morocco’s Adil Hermach and received a yellow card.

Morocco, who had started so promisingly, saw their chances dry up, as Angola improved as the first half went on.

And early in the second half, substitute Afonso almost quickly turned Angola’s fortunes, as he latched onto Lamyaghri’s fumbled ball, only to see his snapped shot trickle narrowly wide.

The former Switzerland Under-21 international’s introduction sparked life into the Angolan side, as he continued to make a nuisance of himself and almost forced the Moroccan defence into another error, which Lamyaghri scrambled to gather gratefully.

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Fiorentina’s Mounir El Hamdaoui replied for Morocco by bursting forward at pace but he lashed wide.

Belhanda was finally introduced on the hour mark and he almost made an immediate impact as he broke into the box, dribbled around the Angolan defence, skipped inside but dragged the ball narrowly wide, before being yellow-carded for a tug on Angola’s Pirolito.

Manucho almost capitalised on confusion in the Moroccan defence but hammered wide, before his fellow attacker Mateus produced a fantastic cross for the Real Valladolid striker late on, which he should have buried, but managed to scuff wide with his head.

Both sides missed an opportunity to go top of the group, as the second draw of the day left Group A wide open.

The 2013 Nations Cup, meanwhile, awaits its first goal after 180 minutes of football.

Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi:

“We played after the game between South Africa and Cape Verde and that gave us motivation to win.

“We virtually monopolised the first half. We created lots of chances but lacked success.

“We were not up against a phantom side – they have got strong strikers and woke up in the second half.

“It’s a positive result for us, and we’ll be trying to get a better one in our second outing and be sharper in front of goal.”

Angola coach Gustavo Ferrin:

“Before the tournament, we were the [second] weakest team in the group, according to Fifa’s rankings.

“Now we’ve all come away with 0-0 draws and we [have] the same chances as before.”

Morocco's Atlas Lions at 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

Morocco’s Atlas Lions compete in Group A at 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

LINEUP

Morocco

  • 01 Lamyaghri
  • 02 Abderrahim Chakir
  • 05 Benatia Booked
  • 15 El Kaoutari
  • 17 El Adoua
  • 06 Hermach
  • 07 Barrada (Belhanda – 63′ Booked )
  • 08 El Ahmadi (Belghazouani – 82′ )
  • 11 Assaidi
  • 14 El Hamdaoui (El Arabi – 71′ )
  • 21 Amrabat

Substitutes

  • 12 Anas Zniti
  • 22 Askri
  • 03 Bergdich
  • 04 Kantari
  • 16 Abdelatif Noussir
  • 10 Belhanda
  • 13 Youssef Kaddioui
  • 19 Chafni
  • 23 Mehdi Namli
  • 09 El Arabi
  • 18 Belghazouani
  • 20 Abderazak Hamdallah
16 teams compete in South Africa January 19 - February 10 in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

16 teams compete in S. Africa -  Jan. 19-Feb. 10 at 2013 AFCON

Angola

  • 01 Lama
  • 03 Lunguinha (Airosa – 78′ )
  • 04 Alex Afonso Dani Massunguna
  • 13 Bastos
  • 15 Miguel
  • 20 Regio Mingo Bile (Afonso – 46′ )
  • 06 Dede
  • 16 Pirolito
  • 18 Da Costa (Gilberto – 82′ )
  • 09 Manucho Booked
  • 17 Mateus

Substitutes

  • 12 Landu
  • 22 Neblu
  • 02 Airosa
  • 05 Fabricio
  • 10 Francisco Zuela
  • 14 Costa
  • 07 Djalma
  • 08 Manucho Dinis
  • 11 Gilberto
  • 21 Manuel
  • 19 Yano
  • 23 Afonso
Teams competing in the 2013 AFCON - color shows stage of play. Jan. 18, 2013 Wikipedia

Teams competing in the 2013 AFCON – color shows stage of play. Jan. 18, 2013 Wikipedia

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