The Morocco U17 national team began their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Panama on Friday.
In their Group A opener at the Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium, goals from Saifdine Chlaghmo and Ayman Ennair earned the Atlas Cubs three points.
Chlaghmo headed Morocco in front on 16 minutes, rising highest to convert Abdelhamid Maali’s deep corner past Panama goalkeeper Manuel Romero.
Morocco controlled the first half but Panama emerged rejuvenated after the break. The Central Americans nearly equalised on 60 minutes as Oldemar Castillo cut inside and curled just wide.
Minutes later, Panama substitute Frederik Krug somehow side-footed over from six yards out following Hector Rios’ cutback, spurning his side’s best opportunity.
That miss proved costly as Morocco sealed victory in second-half stoppage time. Maali’s clipped ball found Ennair breaking through on goal to delicately lift the ball over Romero.
It was a deserved win for Morocco, who dominated possession and territory against a Panama team that competed well after their timid first half.
Man of the match honours went to tenacious Morocco midfielder Mohamed Hamony for his battling midfield display.
Morocco next face hosts Indonesia on Monday, while Panama take on Ecuador later the same day.
After this opening win, the Atlas Cubs appear well positioned to progress from Group A if they can maintain this form.