The Elephants of Ivory Coast failed to make it to a fourth successive World Cup after they were crushed 2-0 at home by the Atlas Lions of Morocco in a Group C qualifier on Saturday evening.
The match took place at the Stade Felix Houpouet-Boigny in Abidjan after the end of the 90 minutes of action, the Atlas Lions secured a first World Cup appearance since 1998 thanks to goals from Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia.
Ivory Coast showed the more determined side when they created a dangerous chance in front of the Moroccan post after 17 minutes of patchy football from both sides. The results of the chance was a wasteful shot from Gervinho when his attempted finish ended up in the stands behind the goal.
Morrocan midfielder Nabil Dirar opened the scores when he played an in-swinging cross from the right flank which beat the players in the middle but found the net just inside goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo’s right-hand post.
After 30 minutes of play, the North Africans doubled their advantage when captain Medhi Benatia got ahead of marker Jean-Philippe Gbamin at a corner kick to half-volley home from close range.
The half time whistle saw the Atlas Lions in pole position for the 2018 FIFA mundial as they led 2-0 making the Stade Felix Houpouet-Boigny dead silent.
Morocco came into the second half with more fire as they almost sealed the game with a third goal early as early as the 50th minute with Mbark Boussoufa’s scuffed effort desperately cleared off his own line by defender Serge Aurier.
Tottenham Hotspur fullback Aurier had the brightest opportunity to bring his side back into the game on 64 minutes but rather delivered a blazing shot over the target when he had only the goalkeeper to beat – and teammate Seydou Doumbia ishotbetter position. a great chance
During the last 20 minutes, The Elephants came attacking and pressing to get a goal but the defensive line of the Atlas Lions were well composed and coordinated so that made it difficult for the Ivorians to penetrate.
The Atlas Lions join Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia as the five African representatives at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia. They return after appearing in the 1998 FIFA World Cup hosted and won by France.
Ivory Coast 0
Morocco (2) (Dirar 25’, Benatia 30’)
Ivory Coast: Sylvain Gbohouo, Serge Aurier, Simon Deli (Ghislain Konan 46’), Wilfried Kanon, Seko Fofana (Maxwell Cornet 62’), Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Franck Kessie, Wilfried Zaha, Max Gradel, Gervinho (Salomon Kalou 76’), Seydou Doumbia
Morocco: Mounir El Kajoui, Medhi Benatia, Hakim Ziyach (Sofyan Amrabat 82’), Romain Saiss, Mbark Boussoufa, Noureddine Amrabat, Karim El Ahmadi, Khalid Boutaib (Achraf Bencharki 75’), Achraf Hakimi, Younes Belhanda (Faycal Fajr 90+1’), Nabil Dirar