Nigeria will still continue her search to win African Nations Championship (CHAN) in 2020 as the home-based Super Eagles were handed a 4-0 defeat by Morocco in the final of the competition played yesterday in Casablanca.
Both teams had never won the CHAN before, but it was the Atlas Lions that showed more desperation to break the jinx in the encounter which saw them humiliating the Coach Yusuf-led Eagles in the final held at the 45,000-capacity Stade Mohamed V stadium.
The Moroccans four goals were supplied by Hadraf, who got a brace while El-Karti and El Kaabi scored one each.
In their only previous CHAN encounter four years ago, Nigeria came from three goals down to defeat Morocco 4-3 after extra time in the quarter-finals in Cape Town, but the four nil handed the Eagles this time out was more than a revenge for the hosts.
Prior to yesterday game, Nigeria and Morocco have had 19 previous encounters at the senior level in general , with the Atlas Lions having the upper hand winning eight times, while the Eagles won seven times, with four matches drawn. The yesterday victory has now increased the Moroccans superiority over Eagles to nine.
From the blast of the whistle, the Atlas Lions started dominating the proceedings, taking the fight to the Nigerian territory and tearing up the Eagles defence at will.
The persistent pressure mounted on Nigeria however paid off for the Atlas Lions as Hadraf latched on a cross from his colleague to put Morocco ahead on 45th minute of the first half.
The Moroccans not only ended the first stanza with a lone goal lead, but had 61% of the ball possessions against 31% of the Eagles.
Rather than stepping up their game on resumption in the second half, Eagles continued their poor run, which clearly showed that they did not get any technical support from the bench, hence were completely dominated by their opponents, and especially after Moses Eneji was red carded due to his poor marking.
But for some good efforts put by Eagles goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye, the hosts could have pummeled Nigeria with more than four goals.
In the game, Coach Salisu Yusuf reverted to his favoured 4-3-3 so as to contain the rapacious Atlas Lions. The Eagles starting XI were Dele Ajiboye, Ikouwem Udoh, Osas Okoro, Stephen Eze, Kalu Orji, Emeka Atuloma, Dayo Ojo, Rabiu Ali, Peter Eneji, Okechukwu Gabriel, and Emeka Ogbugh.
The last season Nigeria Professional League, NPFL, goals king, Anthony Okpotu was however made to start from the bench, even though his inclusion could not salvage anything for the country.
Sudan edged out Libya 4-2 via penalties to claim bronze in the third-place play-off match at the 2018 CAF African Nations Championship at Stade de Marrakech on Saturday.