Defending champions Ivory Coast are out of the AFCON 2017 at the group stages of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, January 24, after going down 1-0 to Morocco coached by their former boss, Herve Renard.
A beautiful goal by France-based Rachid Alioui settled the even contest between the two powerhouses, as the Elephants, who needed a convincing win to progress, bowed out.
It was a mixed feeling for Renard whose hope of becoming the first coach to win three Cup of Nations titles with three different countries was kept alive by a crushing defeat to his former lads.
The 48-year-old Frenchman guided underdogs Zambia to glory in 2012 and repeated the feat with perennial underachievers, Ivory Coast three years later.
After both sides had rattled the woodwork during a first half which ended 0-0 despite the Elephants enjoying the lion share of possession, Aliou broke the deadlock with a sensational goal on 64 minutes.
In a swift counter-attack, he collected the ball 25 yards from goal and unleashed a curler into the top right-hand corner that eluded Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
The Atlas Lions showed superb organization to protect their lead with goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi hardly troubled for the remainder of the game.
Morocco go through as runners-up in Group C after the Democratic Republic of Congo thumped Togo 3-1 in the other game, and will go up against the winners of Group D in Sunday’s quarterfinal clash in Port-Gentil.
High-flying DRC made light work of Togo as Junior Kabananga converted Chancel Mbemba’s pass for the opener, his third goal in as many games to become tournament top scorer.
Kabananga then hit the post with a flicked header before Ndombe Mubele doubled the lead after the break, looping the ball over the keeper with the Togolese backline static.
Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba’s tidy finish brought Togo back in, but Paul-Jose M’Poku’s free-kick ensured the DR Congo finish as group winners.