Soccer-Morocco thrash Guinea Bissau to go top of their World Cup group

CAPE TOWN (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 have six points after two games, two clear of Guinea Bissau, who have played a game more. Guinea have two points while Sudan have one.

Guinea Bissau had attempted to get the game postponed after six of their players were taken to hospital on the eve of the match with food poisoning.

Their federation had claimed all 25 squad members had been affected but only six were treated, officials said.

It was the second win in the group for Morocco, who had their last qualifier in Guinea postponed last month when a military uprising forced a change of government and the Moroccan side had to flea 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 their home stadium in Bissau unsuitable for hosting World Cup qualifiers.

Morocco will then play their 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 play five of their six group qualifiers at home after offering to host countries who 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 have had their 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.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

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