Taifa Stars’ dreams of qualifying for the AFCON 2012 finals ended in vain after being thrashed 3-1 by Morocco in their last Group D match played at the Grand Stadium in Marrakech on Sunday.
Hosts Morocco were the first to score after Stars goalkeeper Juma Kaseja was left stranded by Marouane Chamakh’s header in the 19th minute.
Stars equalized in the 40th when Abdi Kassim received a fine defence-slipping pass from Idrisa Rajab and released a stunning thunderbolt that beat Morocco’s goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri from the best part of 35 yards.
The score sheet was reading 1-1 at the interval.
The hosts, who have qualified for the AFCON finals that will be jointly hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon next year, took the lead again in the 68th minute through Adel Taarabt.
Mbark Boussoufa hammered the last nail in Stars’ coffin in the stoppage time when his grass-cutter shot from inside the penalty box sailed into the net to give Morocco a 3-1 win.
Four Stars players Idrisa Rajab, Juma Nyoso, Dan Mrwanda and Mohamed Rajab were shown yellow cards by referee Bakary Gassem from Gambia.
Morocco’s skipper Houcine Kharja was also yellow carded by the referee.
Speaking after the match, Stars’ head coach Jan Poulsen praised his players saying that they played well against one of the best teams in the continent.
The Danish tactician said now they have to focus on their two matches against Chad in the knockout stages of the Africa Zone for the 2014 World Cup finals to be staged in Brazil.
Stars will play away to Chad in the first leg in Ndjamena on November 11 and the second leg will be played in Dar es Salaam on November 15.
Stars are expected to return home today morning at 8:30.
Stars; Juma Kaseja, Erasto Nyoni/Nassoro Cholo, Idrisa Rajab, Juma Nyoso, Aggrey Morris, Shabani Nditi, Dan Mrwanda, Henry Joseph, Mbwana Samata/John Bocco, Abdi Kassim and Mohamed Rajab/Mrisho Ngasa.
Morocco; Nadir Lamyaghri, Michael Basser, Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, Badri El Kaddouri, Mehdi Benatia, Younes Belhanda, Houcine Kharja, Mbark Boussoufa, Adel Taarabt/Youssef El Arabi, Marouane Chamakh/Said Fettah and Oussama Assaidi/Karim Al Ahmadi.