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Gabon crowned CAF U-23 African champions
12-10-2011
           
 
Gabon came from behind to beat hosts Morocco 2-1 in the final of the first ever CAF U-23 Championship on Saturday in Marrakech.
Two goals from Obiang Obiang and Allen Nono cancelled out Younes Mokhtar’s strike in the 21st minute. In an open match Gabon the surprise team of the tournament took the game to the Moroccans and once they led rode their luck to complete their fairy tale. Gabon’s victory brings them their first ever crown in a major CAF continental competition
Morocco had started brightly and put their noses in front when a delightful cross from the right flank by Yacine Qasmi was finished home by Younes Mokhtar to send the 15 000 crowd into raptures. Bergdich Zakarya back in the side after missing the semi-final strengthened the defence by was also giving the Moroccan an extra attacking option and they could have increased the lead Qasmi found room in the box only to drive his shot just wide of the post.
Gabon grew into the game after absorbing the early Moroccan threats and soon were causing problems with the long ball aimed at their bustling forwards.
Obiang Obiang had just been booked for a late challenge on Abdelatif Noussir when he ventured upfront chasing a lofted ball with Junior Ndong and a Moroccan defender. The ball’s bounce fell kindly for Obiang who shot into the roof of the net for the equalizer in the 33rd minute to hush the crowd.  
Soon Gabon were threatening further from set pieces and corner kicks which Alexander Ndoumbou was taking. The home crowd got into voice encouraging Morocco and the team responded with several shots on target but most of them ended up with Gabonese goalkeeper Nick Moundounga.
Then the stadium was shocked into silence in 40th minute when striker Allen Nono’s bullet header from close range rattled the roof of the net from a free-kick by Ndoumbou to give Gabon the lead. Morocco had a free- kick on the stroke of half tie which went close.
 
Morocco returned from the break determined to get back in the game and attacked ferociously the Gabonese goal. Mokhtar saw his effort bundled off the line by Ebanga and as each attack did not yield desired result Moroccans poured forward in search of the equalising goal. This move left them vulnerable to counter and it was not long before Gabon broke through and Yassine El Kharroubi in goal for Morocco brought down the striker and the goalkeeper was sent off. Morocco applied more pressure and chased every ball but with one man short Gabon frustrated them and closed shop while using every opportunity to run down the clock.
2-1 it finished and Gabon celebrated their victory before picking up the winners’ trophy from CAF President Mr Issa Hayatou.
    
 
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