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AFCON 2021: Points of interest ahead of titanic Morocco v Ghana clash

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The star match of the quartet games this Monday is obviously the duel of Morocco and Ghana. It will be a kind of early final. Two giants of African football will be playing at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé.

●   Morocco and Ghana have met three times previously at the Africa Cup of Nations, all in the group phase – their head-to-head record is perfectly balanced with one win each and one draw. Meanwhile, these three games have only produced three goals.

●   This is Morocco’s 18th participation in the Africa Cup of Nations – their only title dates back to 1976 and the only time they’ve reached the final since then was in 2004, losing 2-1 against hosts Tunisia. 2004 was also the last time they made it past the quarter-finals.

●   Morocco conceded only one goal in six games during qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the lowest tally of the 24 teams at this year’s tournament.

●   This is Ghana’s 23rd appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations, the most after Egypt (25) and Cote d’Ivoire (24). The Black Stars won the Africa Cup of Nations in four of their first seven appearances (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982) but have won none of their subsequent 15. They have nevertheless reached the semi-finals in six of the last seven editions, more than any other team over that period.

●    Ghana’s match against Morocco will be their 100th in the Africa Cup of Nations. The Black Stars join Egypt as the only teams to reach that landmark.

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●   Since 2008, Ghana’s André Ayew has played more minutes (2,474) than any other player in the Africa Cup of Nations. He is Ghana’s leading scorer in the tournament (9 goals), having found the net in each of his last five AFCON participations.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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