Hi guys, it’s day three in Morocco for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN). A review of the previous days and tonight Nigeria will begin their campaign against Rwanda.
It was a boring trip but smooth flight from Lagos on Saturday morning to Casablanca, despite paying up to $1,000 for the flight what Royal Air Maroc could offer me was snacks and a cup of water, chaii no eba and okro soup. I couldn’t watch anything, no TV screen for Yoruba Africa Magic, LOL! I had to sleep all through with Fuji music to my ears, Pasuma was live inside the flight through my phone, Smile!
On arrival in Casablanca at 9.35am local time (10.30am Nigeria time) first thing I noticed was that Royal Air Maroc celebrated 60 years of existence in 2017 and I asked where’s Nigeria Airways? Sad face! Royal Air Maroc have done a lot of good to improve Morocco economy through aviation, boarded flight with Nigerians going to several countries, London, Spain, US and many more. You can imagine how much dollars we have contributed into Moroccan economy.
I got a free sim card plus free credit for local calls, Smile! Honestly, the free call credit saved my day. Morocco Dirham is competing well with the USD, $1 will give 9 Dirham compared to $1 to N363 in Nigeria. Obviously, with the exchange rate Morocco is expensive for Nigerians. I don’t know how much dollars I will need to survive in this country. A bit of relief though, train is free for accredited journalists. We travelled with the free ticket to Tangier from Casablanca, some Dirham saved.
Kudos to my colleague Emmanuel Etim of NigeriaInfo in Lagos, he arrived in Casablanca three days ago. He led me through the train system from the airport to CasaVoyage before I boarded a taxi to Hotel Colisse. Hey, don’t try taxi for a long distance in Morocco. Train is the cheapest at least to some extent, I paid 55 Dirham from the airport to CasaVoyage but spent 60 Dirham for a 10 minutes drive from our hotel to the stadium for the opening game.
At the Mohammed V Stadium
We got to the stadium three hours before the opening ceremony, took us 30 minutes to locate the accreditation centre. Language is big issue, either me or Emma can’t communicate in Arabic or French. The atmosphere was huge, boys and girls came out to watch their country play, men and women, families and more. Northern Africans have got huge passion for African football, the fan base is crazy.
It was a beautiful opening ceremony, Morocco have shown they have the culture and facilities to host bigger football events. Then came Mauritania, one of the minors in this championship. First half ended goalless, Mauritania defended greatly and looked dangerous in the final third, the hosts were patient and dominated the play
The goals came in the second half, four goals within 24 minutes. Classy performance for the hosts, they kept pushing and finally broke the deadlock in the 66th minute through Ayoub Kaabi, Ismail Haddad added his brace and Achraf Bencharki came on from the bench and scored the fourth goal.
On Sunday, Sudan defeated Guinea 2-1 to complete Group A matchday one matches. Group B witnessed a shocker as Namibia scored a late winner against Cote d’Ivoire.
We are in Tangier
The cold here is crazy, I don’t know how to explain it. Looks like we are in Europe, we are coping but not easy though. At the old port in Tangier, you would get a view of Spain. The train drove for five hours from Casablanca and the experience was amazing, we met a Rwanda colleague at the train park and we ended up staying together at the same flat. Interestingly, both Nigeria and Rwanda will face-off tonight. Who will laugh most inside the flat after the game? Hopefully, Nigeria.
We also had a view of the beautiful Stade Ibn Batouta, the stadium complex had three training pitches. Morocco facilities are impressive, I won’t be surprised if FIFA decided to stage the World Cup in Morocco in the future. To add, my hotel in Tangier is crazily expensive. Make sure you support the Super Eagles tonight. Back tomorrow for more.
Group C – Today’s Fixtures
Libya vs Equatorial Guinea – 4.30pm kickoff time (5.30pm Nigeria time).
Nigeria vs Rwanda – 7.30pm kickoff time (8.30pm Nigeria time).