African Qualifiers: Morocco thrashes Guinea Bissau to go top of its World Cup group

Morocco romped to a 5-0 win over Guinea Bissau in Rabat to go top of Africa's World Cup qualifying Group I.

Morocco's Achraf Hakimi plays for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. - REUTERS

Morocco romped to a 5-0 home win over Guinea Bissau in Rabat on Wednesday to go top of Africa’s World Cup qualifying Group I at the start of a busy week for the north Africans.

Achraf Hakimi netted from his wing-back position to open the scoring just past the half-hour mark, before debutant Imran Louza converted a penalty on the stroke of halftime.

Watford's new signing recently switched his international allegiance having played for France at junior levels. Ilias Chair, Ayoub El Kaabi and Munir El Haddadi added three more after the break, the fourth a spectacular overhead kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Morocco has six points after two games, two clear of Guinea Bissau, which has played a game more. Guinea has two points while Sudan has one.

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Guinea Bissau had attempted to get the game postponed after six of its players were taken to hospital on the eve of the match with food poisoning. Its federation had claimed all 25 squad members had been affected but only six were treated, officials said.

Second win

It was the second win in the group for Morocco, which had its last qualifier in Guinea postponed last month when a military uprising forced a change of government and the Moroccan side had to flee the country.

Morocco and Guinea Bissau meet again on Saturday in Casablanca with Guinea Bissau ceding home advantage after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) declared its home stadium in Bissau unsuitable for hosting World Cup qualifiers.

Morocco will then play its postponed game against Guinea in Rabat on Tuesday, with this game also switched to Morocco after CAF said the security situation in Conakry was unstable.

Morocco, therefore, effectively plays five of its six group qualifiers at home after offering to host countries that were forced to look for alternate venues after their home stadiums were declared below minimum standard.

Guinea had earlier on Wednesday begun a busy six successive days of African qualifiers with a 1-1 draw against Sudan in the other Group I game, played in Marrakech because Sudan has had its stadiums banned too.

It was a blow to Guinea’s hopes of being able to challenge Morocco for top spot in the group, where only the winner advances to March’s playoffs for the five African places at the World Cup in Qatar.

Mohamed Lamine Bayo gave Guinea the lead after 56 minutes but Saifedin Bakhit equalised for Sudan with 18 minutes remaining.

Africa’s qualifiers continue on Thursday with eight more matches and there will be games every day until next Tuesday.

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