Live Commentary: Morocco 1-1 Cape Verde - as it happened

Mehdi Benatia
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live text coverage of Group A's clash between Morocco and Cape Verde in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Morocco and Cape Verde headed into tonight's Group A encounter knowing that a victory would put either nation in good contention for a place in the final eight.

Despite a strong start from Cape Verde, who went ahead courtesy of a strike from Platini, Morocco answered their critics in the second half to level the scoreline through Youssef El Arabi.

Read how the action unfolded in our minute-by-minute coverage below.


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5.30pmHello all! Welcome to Sports Mole's coverage of the second Group A clash of the day - Morocco vs. Cape Verde. Whoever wins tonight's match will make their chances of qualifying for the final eight even stronger.

5.31pmEarlier this afternoon we witnessed hosts South Africa claim a 2-0 victory over Angola, which has pushed them to the top of the standings on four points while the remaining teams in the group sit on one point apiece.

5.33pmFor Morocco and Cape Verde, tonight is the perfect opportunity to go level on points with South Africa and sit in that second qualifying spot. The two sides don't have much history playing against each other, well, they don't have any in fact! Tonight is the first time that the two nations come up against each other, so it's all up for grabs!

5.36pmMorocco headed into this year's tournament as underdogs but they played out a goalless draw against Angola in their opening fixture. Given that result, the team are likely to be full of confidence heading into this match.

5.39pmWith regards to Cape Verde, they almost gave hosts South Africa a shock but they failed to find the net and secured a point in a 0-0 draw. So, with both sides on equal points, and both struggling in that final third, who knows which way it will go tonight!

5.40pmCape Verde boss Rachid Taoussi was speaking ahead of the match and said, according to BBC Sport: "I must be patient as we have a young team with an average age of 24 and we are building. I believe we can offer more in our games this week against Cape Verde and South Africa."

5.42pmRight, we have the teams for you so let's have a look and who's been given the nod to start this evening...

5.43pmMorocco starting XI: Lamyaghri; Chakir, Bergdich, Benatia, El Adoua; Abdel, El Ahmadi, Belhanda, Assaidi; El Hamdaoui, Amrabat

5.44pmCape Verde starting XI: Vozinha; Varela, Nando, Gege, Nivaldo, Babanco; Platini, Varela, Soares, Tavares; Mendes

5.48pmYou may notice that we have a Premier League contingent in the Morocco side today. Aston Villa's Karim El Ahmadi gets a starting spot and Liverpool midfielder Oussama Assaidi, who has struggled to launch into the first team at Anfield, will also line up for the Moroccons.

5.51pmMontpellier forward Younes Belhanda has found his way into the Morocco team, in place of Adil Hermach, who is forced to make way. Mehdi Benetia has also been included in the back four for tonight's encounter.

5.53pmMeanwhile, Cape Verde have made two changes for this match as Gege and Julio Tavares enter the side.

5.54pmRight, we are under five minutes away from kickoff in Durban! The teams are out on the pitch and completing the pre-match anthems and handshake obligations. Then we can get down to business!

5.56pmSo where do you see this going? For me, I have a feeling we may be getting another draw. Either a 0-0 or a 1-1 but for everyone's sake, let's hope that I'm wrong!

0 minAnd we're off! Morocco get this second Group A clash of the day underway...

0 minThere's an early free kick for Cape Verde and almost a goal! Soares takes the kick and has it floats into the box it just hits the shoulder of Babanco and goes over the bar.

2 minMinutes later we have another free kick for Cape Verde but Gege's delivery is punched clear by Morocco keeper Lamyaghri and their opponents get the chance to break but the play is snuffed out by Cape Verde's back four. An aggressive start to the match from Cape Verde!

4 minMorocco are struggling to handle Cape Verde's pace at the moment. They needs to settle down if they want to get a good start in the game.

5 minBergdich gets the ball down the flanks for Morocco and dodges past the defence to pull the ball back on the corner of the box but no other red shirts meet the pass and the attack breaks down.

6 minAssaidi passes the ball from in their own half to the final third searching for Amrabat but it's hit too hard and goes out of play.

7 minAt the other end, Cape Verde get plenty of movement up front and Platini crosses into the box but it's a wayward pass and is easily collected by the keeper.

8 minBegdich tries another long ball from the back to try to find Assaidi, whose pushed up top but it's not a great ball and drifts too far for his teammate.

10 minCape Verde seem happy to knock the ball back and forth in the midfield but the ball's stolen by Begdich, who passes to Assaidi, who then looks for the through-ball but he loses it in the final third.

11 minTavares is brought down and Cape Verde get a free kick in a good position. Babanco is hovering over the ball...

12 minThe ball floats into the box but a hoard of red shirts manage to header the ball clear but it falls to Platini, who tries to drive it back in but Assaidi has enough strength to force the forward to knock it out for a goal kick.

13 minA minute later, Cape Verde get another free kick on the left-hand side. It flies into the box and while it would be an easy catch for Lamyaghri, he opts to punch it clear.

15 minMorocco are unable to find their feet at the moment and they seem lost of ideas already! Cape Verde continue to press and Benatia has committed a number of fouls. He's got to be careful, otherwise he may receive an early caution.

16 minAssaidi drives down the left and tries to cut in to get on his right foot and while he gets the cross in, it's blocked with ease and Morocco struggle once more.

18 minMorocco break from an unsuccessful free kick from Cape Verde and Belhanda grabs the ball in midfield but his pass out wide is poor and he gives the ball away.

19 minBOOKING! Achchakir gets cautioned fro a dangerous tackle and Cape Verde get another free kick right on the edge of the penalty area

20 minSAVE! Mendes takes the free kick and it blasts through the wall but Lamyaghri dives to his left to tip the ball out of danger.

23 minAmrabat runs at Cape Verde's back four for the first time in this match but his shot gets blocked and Morocco get a corner but it comes to nothing.

24 minA first sign of an attack from Morocco as Belhanda makes a lovely swift turn in midfield to slide the ball through Cape Verde's defence and find El Ahmadi, but he's flagged offside. Good signs there!

26 minThey're on the attack again but Amrabat is too slow to find the pass and Cape Verde get a throw-in.

27 minSoares tries to give Cape Verde some control by beginning an attack from midfield but he fouls Mendes and gives away a free kick in the Moroccon half.

28 minMendes and Barrada both crash to the floor after catching each other with their studs as they both fought for the ball. They're up now though, so thankfully no injury worries as yet.

30 minIt's a very fast-paced game at the moment and Morocco have got themselves into the game following a sluggish start.

30 minCape Verde take a free kick quickly and Platini tries to find Gege on the overlap in the final third but he fouls Barrada, who tries to steal the ball, and gives away a free kick.

32 minIt's another offside decision against Morocco as Bergdich's throw-in tries to find the head of Assaidi but his position is wrong.

33 minAt the other end, Mendes drives inside and gets his shot away but it fails to trouble the keeper as he dives to ground to push the ball clear. Cape Verde continue to pressure but Morocco dispel the danger.

34 minMorocco's shot-stopper has been busy in these first 35 minutes, while Vozinha has barely seen the ball.

35 minGOAL! Morocco 0-1 Cape Verde (Platini)

36 minAnd the deadlock is broken! A great turn of pace from Platini as Cape Verde snatch possession in midfield and he times his run perfectly to stay onside and drive to the right side of the box to sweep the ball passed the keeper into the centre of the net.

37 minBOOKING! Mendes gets booked for a handball offence after he jumped for the ball with his right arm up. A silly mistake to make.

39 minBarrada takes a free kick just above to halfway line and he lofts the ball into the box and it's a poor attempt as it comes directly off the head of Mendes.

40 minYou'd have to say that it's a well deserved lead for Cape Verde. They've been by far the better side and they now have their first AFCON goal to write down in the record books. Could there be more?

40 minAmrabat shows his strength to get in the penalty area and pull the ball back for Barrada but the midfielder can't get there in time and the chance gets snuffed out by the Cape Verde defence.

41 minMendes tries to make it 2-0 at the other end by receiving the ball in the box - he controls it well with his feet and manages to swiftly turn to get a shot in but there's no power on his attempt and it bobbles out.

42 minMorocco are getting plenty of time down the left-hand side but once again, their final touch is letting them down.

43 minBelhanda tries to change his side's fortunes by storming through midfield and sweeping the play out to the right with Amrabat but his cross is headed out.

44 minWith half-time approaching, Morocco have the chance to get on even terms with a free kick...

45 minEl Ahmadi takes it and goes for goal and while there's plenty of power behind it, it drives straight into the wall and Cape Verde clear.

45+1 minIt's all Morocco at the moment! This is probably the first time that they've looked threatening in the first half as Barrada and Assaidi knock the ball to each other on the left but they give away possession.

45+2 minMendes gets a free kick in Cape Verde's own half, and as expected, it was the last kick of the half and they take a 1-0 lead into the break.

45+2 minHALF-TIME: Morocco 0-1 Cape Verde

6.48pmSo Cape Verde lead at the break and it's more than deserved considering their performance in the opening 45 minutes. They've been more assured in front of goal and have managed to control the midfield.

6.49pmIn contrast, Morocco have struggled to match their opponents pace and have been giving the ball away cheaply, which they will have to tighten up in the second half.

6.51pmWhile Belhanda was tipped to be a standout player for Morocco ahead of this game, the Montpellier forward has been unable to impose himself on the match and has looked lost in his role.

6.54pmWhile the stats show that Morocco enjoyed the majority of possession with 53% to Cape Verde's 37%, most of that time on the ball was defending so the Moroccons won't be too encouraged with that.

6.57pmDespite a relatively poor half, Morocco did show signs of some quality through Amrabat and Barrada and they were on the frontfoot for the last five minutes or so. They will need to show that kind of urgency in the second half in order to stay in this game.

6.58pmWell, that's my 0-0 prediction out of the window! Morocco could get one back but considering Cape Verde's performance in the first half, I expect them to snatch all three points tonight.

7.01pmRight, the teams have emerged back onto the pitch and as far as we know neither managers have made any changes as yet.

7.01pmSUBSTITUTION I jinxed myself there! Morocco have made one change at half-time as Ambrat makes way for El Arabi.

45 minCape Verde get us underway in the second half!

46 minMorocco win the ball and try to launch an attack from the back four. They're taking there time with this and Benatia looks unsure as to what move to make...

46 minVarela gets a free kick for Cape Verde due to a high challenge from El Arabi.

48 minBelhanda slips the ball into the final third, leaving Assaidi to run onto to it but he times his run poorly and fails to latch on to the ball.

49 minMorocco look a lot stronger in this game. They've come out with a better game-plan than they had in the first half and are not allowed themselves to be dominated in midfield. We'll see if this change of pace can cause an upset to Cape Verde.

50 minNeves gets brought down and wins the free kick, which he takes by launching the ball across the field up towards Tavares, but as he turns to pass into the middle of the box, there are no blue and white shirts to find the ball.

52 minCHANCE! Neves flings his header at the near post after Varela crosses the ball into the box but Neves is falling as he heads the ball and it flies over the bar.

53 minBabanco gets a lovely cross into the box and Lamyaghri runs out to punch clear when he could have snatched it and given his team back possession.

54 minSUBSTITUTION Morocco make their second change as Assaidi comes off for Belghazouani.

55 minCape Verde are beginning to get on top once again. They've weathered the storm from Morocco and a cross flies in for Tavares, who manages to get a head on the ball but it gets deflected and goes out for another corner.

56 minMorocco get the break on and a great turn from Belghazouani allows him to launch a cross on the volley but it fails to find a red shirt.

57 minVarela goes to ground after falling awkwardly. He's seeking attention from the medical staff but he seems to be fine and he's good to continue.

58 minA lovely turn from Mendes in midfield allows the forward to drive into the final third and launch the ball over the top to the head of Tavares, who can't direct his attempt.

59 minMorocco get another break through El Arabi but Varela is too strong for the midfielder and he steals back possession for Cape Verde.

61 minBOOKING! Belhanda gets cautioned for showing studs in a tackle on Tavares.

62 minMorocco snatch possession and a lovely piece of trickery from El Arabi allows him to get the cross in but it falls into the hands of Vozinha.

64 minSUBSTITUTION Surprisingly Belhanda has been forced to leave the field with Chafni taking his place. Morocco have used all their subs with 25 minutes left to play.

65 minBOOKING! Neves gets a yellow card after bringing down El Arabi and it's all gone a bit handbags here as Morocco get a free kick in a dangerous area.

67 minAh, not the best free kick from Barrada. He decides to take the shot from 30-35 yards out and while it starts to dip, it never threatened the goalkeeper and Morocco remain one goal down.

68 minOh dear, Belghazouani could have seen a straight red card there! He gets brought down by Soares and then kicks out at Platini, who then drops to the floor. The ref missed it though!

69 minBOOKING! Another yellow card is issued in this second half as A Arabi gets cautioned for a high leg challenge on Neves.

70 minSUBSTITUTION Goalscorer Platini comes off for Cape Verde and Roni comes onto the field.

71 minRoni chests down to Tavares, who then plays it back to the forward but Morocco win the ball back to launch at attack.

72 minEl Arabi drives into the final third and it was almost certain that he was going to get his shot in but some great defending from Varela stops the forward in his tracks.

73 minRoni tries to find Tavares but his pass his intercepted by Chafni and Morocco start their attack again.

74 minSUBSTITUTION Cape Verde make another change as Mendes makes way for Heldon as we reach the final 15 minutes of the game.

76 minTavares finds the ball on the left side but as he passes to Heldon, the forward is flagged offside for Cape Verde.

77 minGOAL! Morocco 1-1 Cape Verde (El Arabi)

78 minWell, it was coming! Morocco get their equaliser courtesy of a brilliant run by Barrada, who storms down the right of the final third and stops in his tracks to slide the ball back to El Arabi, who is on his own in the middle of the box and he blasts it into the back of the net.

79 minAt the other end, Cape Verde get a free kick on the right side of the box but Neves's cross gets headed out by Morocco with ease.

81 minSAVE! It's a vital save for Lamyaghri but he didn't look that confident as he almost dropped the ball when he dove to the floor following a strike from Heldon.

82 minCHANCE! An opportunity for El Arabi to get his second goal at the other end. The ball bounces towards El Arabi from a corner kick but it just slides off the top of his head and he fails to direct it into the net and it goes wide.

84 minBanatia tries the long ball up-field but it fails to reach the target and Cape Verde get to break.

85 minThe attack comes to nothing and Morocco win back the ball with Barrada, who tries to play it through to El Hamdaoui, but he's a yard offside.

86 minEl Hamdaoui switches the play wide to Belghazouani, who drives into the box and whips a cross in but it gets deflected and goes out for a goal kick.

88 minSUBSTITUTION Cape Verde make their final change as Ramos comes onto the field in place of Tavares.

89 minMorocco are on the frontfoot once again and they knock the ball around the midfield to maintain possession as five minutes of stoppage time have been announced.

90 minIt's three against three for Cape Verde but Morocco's strong defence give the ball back to El Ahmadi but their attack is snuffed out.

90+1 minGreat concentration from Lamyaghri as he runs out of his goal to kick the ball away from the oncoming Heldon. A vital move from the Moroccon goalkeeper to keep the scoreline all square.

90+3 minBoth sides are really going at it in these final few minutes. Could we get a winner?

90+3 minA long ball floats into the box with El Arabi trying to get on the end of it but it's hit too far and Cape Verde launch an attack from defence.

90+4 minMorocco are knocking on the door as a cross from the left come in with El Arabi and Barrada in the box but it comes to nothing.

90+5 minFULL-TIME: Morocco 1-1 Cape Verde

7.53pmWell, there we have it! Morocco and Cape Verde share a point in this Group A clash and it was arguably a fair result considering Morocco's comeback in the second half. It really was a game of two halves!

7.55pmCape Verde were by far the dominant side in the first 45 minutes, where they snatched a goal through Platini, whereas Morocco struggled to get a foothold in the game and continued to struggle with their final touch.

7.56pmThe second half was a different story. The team talk in the Morocco dressing room clearly worked because they managed to control the midfield and the arrival of Youssef El Arabi proved vital as he looked dangerous every time he was on the ball.

7.57pmSo what does this do to the table then?

Group A
South Africa - 4
Cape Verde - 2
Morocco - 2
Angola - 1


7.59pmSo, as you can see, South Africa are likely to top the group, while the second qualifying spot is still very much to play for!

8.01pmWe hope you enjoyed tonight's coverage and remember to tune back in to Sports Mole tomorrow, when we will have live updates from Ghana vs. Mali and Niger vs. DR Congo. Enjoy!

Younes Belhanda
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