The Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat was packed out to see hosts Morocco lift the AFCON U23 title. The final was contested by the two best teams in the tournament and we were treated to a very entertaining spectacle. Egypt took the lead thanks to an absolutely phenomenal strike from Mahmoud Saber. However, the goalscorer’s night came to an end only a few minutes later as he received a red card for a poor tackle. After the sending-off, Morocco mostly dominated possession, though Egypt remained a constant threat on the counter. In the 37th minute, The Atlas Lions equalised thanks to striker Yanis Begraoui. From then on, Morocco continued to push for a second goal but the Egyptian defence stood firm and it wasn’t until the 108th minute that Oussama Targhalline clinched victory for the Moroccans, crowning them AFCON U23 champions for the first time.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Position: Centre Forward
- Secondary Position(s): Right Wing, Left Wing
- Nationality: Morocco
- Date of Birth: 04/07/2001 (22 Years)
- Current Club: Toulouse
- Former Club(s): FC Étampes (Y), CS Brétigny (Y), Auxerre, Pau (Loan)
- Preferred Foot: Both
- Height: 179cm
- Contract Expiration: 30 June 2025
Yanis Begraoui had a very fruitful tournament for Morocco U23 as he bagged three goals including the equaliser in the final. The Toulouse man had enjoyed a productive loan spell with Pau in Ligue 2 where he scored 9 goals in 18 appearances in 2023, clearly staking a claim for a place in the Toulouse first team next season.
The French-born Moroccan striker has a physical profile that meant he was able to run in behind the defensive line thanks to some excellent acceleration, especially over longer distances. Additionally, he was able to use his strength to hold up the ball and act as a link-up player with his fellow attackers. Interestingly, he was poor in the air and lost the majority of the aerial duels despite him appearing to be taller than the central defender who was marking him.
Tactically Begraoui showcased some excellent off-the-ball movement, he would often drift into the half spaces to receive the ball which allowed runners from the midfield to get higher up the pitch into the penalty area. There was one occasion early on where Begraoui made a great line-breaking run into the right half-space, where he picked up the ball and chipped in a delicate cross into the six-yard box, unfortunately, no one was able to turn the ball goalwards for Morocco. For his goal, he made a great run, in between the two central defenders so he could place Bilal El Khannouss’ delightful cross into the back of the net to level up the scores. He also took up pockets of space and consistently dropped deeper which allowed him to play one-twos with fellow attackers in order to bypass the Egyptian defence.
Begraoui demonstrated throughout the tournament that he possesses the technical skills required to be a great number 9 in the future and this game was no different. He was able to utilise his first touch in order to bring the ball under control and ensure that Morocco was able to retain possession. His passing was accurate over short distances and he was able to link up well with teammates, displaying good awareness of his surroundings and where his colleagues are in relation to himself on the pitch.
The Moroccan forward worked hard for the team and tracked back when needed, he was quick to press the Egyptian defenders, rarely giving them any time on the ball. He did go to ground a little easily, which slowed the game down when Morocco was in the ascension which was perhaps some poor decision making.
Rating – A2
Yanis Begraoui put in a good performance and scored a vital goal for the Atlas Lions in their victory over Egypt. He should certainly be in and around the Toulouse first team next season as he has the potential to be a very good player in Ligue 1.