By Olawale Alabi
Defending champions, the Atlas Lions of Morocco are through to the semi-final stage of the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after a convincing 3-1 win against Zambian on Sunday.
Guinea have also qualified, narrowly defeating Rwanda 1-0 in Limbe Stadium.
Morocco started on a high, finding the net within a minute at the Reunification Stadium in Douala, Cameroon.
Soufiane Rahimi found space to slot the ball past Zambia’s goalkeeper Allan Chibwe.
It was a case of poor defending by the Zambian backline, giving Rahimi space to tap in.
The defending champions continued to press in numbers and increased their lead after only eight minutes.
Mohammed Al Bemammer nodded in after goalkeeper Chibwe failed to punch out the ball from a corner-kick.
Zambia were reduced by one player after Zachariah Chilongoshi was sent off for a bad foul on Abdelilah Hafidi after 20 minutes of play.
The Zambians were punished again in the 39th minute when Paul Katema handled the ball in the box for a penalty kick, which team captain Ayoub El Kaabi made no mistake with. The scoreline in the first half was Morocco 3, Zambia 0.
In the second half, the defending champions were with a slower passing approach as the Zambians battled back strongly.
Substitute Moses Phiri pulled a goal back for Zambia after 79 minutes when he beat Morocco’s goalkeeper Anas Zniti to the near post.
The Atlas Lions continued to push forward to look for more goals, but the Zambians defended in numbers.
Morocco will now face hosts Cameroon at the semi-final stage on Wednesday at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium.
The Guinea-Rwanda march saw both sides finish with 10 men.
The VAR intervened twice during the quarter-final match to ensure that Syli National midfielder Mory Kante and Rwanda goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera were sent off in separate incidents.
Guinea playmaker Morlaye Sylla scored from the resultant free-kick in the 60th minute, after Kwizera was penalised for his late tackle on advancing striker Yakhouba Barry.
The goal was enough to send Guinea into the last four of the tournament in the Central African country where they will face neighbours Mali on Wednesday.
Guinea suffered a big blow in the 15th minute when captain and midfielder Mory Kante was sent off after VAR review of an incident in midfield.
The AS Kaloum player was shown the door for the serious tackle on captain Jacques Tuyisenge which led to the forced substitution of the Rwandan captain.