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Morocco Defeat Mali To Become first Back-To-Back CHAN Champions

Morocco won the TOTAL African Nations Championship (CHAN) for the second time by overcoming Mali’s bold challenge 2-0 in a thrilling final at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday night. 

 Two second-half headers by Abdelmouna Boutouil and captain Ayoub El Kaabi sealed the victory for the Atlas Lions in the tournament in Cameroon to hand them the title. 

 The Atlas Lions repeated the success on home soil three years ago by a margin that hardly looked possible as the Eagles stood toe-to-toe with the favourites for over an hour. 

 Houcine Ammouta’s side became the first country to win a second successive title in the tournament, designed exclusively for home-based players. 

 Mali also felt their luck deserted them, but ultimately Morocco ran out victorious to revive the memories of the 4-0 victory over Nigeria in the CHAN 2018 final in Casablanca. 

 In one of the most exciting CHAN finals of the modern era, played out to a soundtrack of African drums, Mali and Morocco delivered an enthralling spectacle that brought delight to football enthusiasts in the continent over the quality on display. 

 Little separated the two sides in a well-contested first 15 minutes which lacked attacking display before El Kaabi‘s header from a free-kick flashed across the face of the Mali goal. 

Mali goalkeeper Djugui Diarra partly saved a tricky free-kick taken by Soufiane Rahimi from the edge of the box before defender Yacouba Doumbia cleared the danger. 

 The West Africans were not overawed by the situation and took advantage of the large space on the right side of the Atlas Lions defence vacated by the marauding Omar Namsaoui. 

 The Eagles should have opened scoring when Mousaa Kone beat the Moroccan offside trap from the right side in the 23rd minute but goalkeeper Anas Zniti was quick off his mark to prevent the Stade Malien striker.

 Mali grew in confidence and moments later talented playmaker Demba Diallo broke free after dispossessing Namsaoui before firing over the bar from 20 yards as they continued to pile the pressure on the North Africans.

 Goalkeeper Diarra was called into action to confidently save a beautiful cross from Hafidi before a Diallo header in the 36th minute from a cross from the right went just wide. 

 The Moroccans regained their control of the game but the central defensive pair of Doumbia and Barou Sanogo dealt effectively with their long aerial balls before the break. 
The Atlas Lions returned from the break and restarted the match in a similar fashion as they did at the start by piling the pressure on the Malians.

 Formally denying the charges against him, the premier stood up and told the court: “I confirm the response filed by my lawyers.” The head judge in the case, Rivka Friedman-Feldman, then said whoever wants to leave can leave, but Netanyahu chose to stay. 

The lawyers are expected to focus on procedural arguments such as the alleged lack of sufficient approval to launch the initial investigations and to issue search warrants for material, as well as a range of other defense claims in the case itself regarding the “precedential” nature of many of the charges.

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