Benin Squirrels pulled the biggest upset of the opening day of round of 16 of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) edging out tournament’s hot favorites Morocco 4-1 to reach the quarterfinals at Cairo Stadium, Egypt on Friday night.
Benin scrapped through to the knockout round, managing three draws out of three fixtures in the group stage to sail through, while Morocco were bullish in the mini league round picking all the maximum points.
The Atlas Lions were therefore firm favorites and were roundly expected to simply zoom past Benin, who had never gone this far in this tournament.
But after a barren first half, Moise Adilehou become the first Benin player to score at the AFCON, putting the Squirrels ahead in the 53rd minute after connecting a shot from a corner kick.
The lead lasted until the 75th minute when En-Nesyri leveled for Morocco with a cool finish. Bouyed by the equalizer, the Atlas Lions surged forward in search of the winner.
They could have wrapped up the match and bagged a win in the dying minutes of the proceedings but Ziyech missed from the spot. Extra time did not produce any goals and the match had to be decided through the dreaded penalties.
Morocco could only score one out of three kicks while Benin converted four to march on and will now play the winner between Uganda and Senegal in the quarterfinals.