YAOUNDE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Defending champions Morocco struggled to beat debutants Togo 1-0 in Group C's opener at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Monday evening.
Yahya Jabrane's 27th minute penalty was enough to see the Atlas Lions past Togo at the Reunification Stadium in Douala, Cameroon.
Morocco dominated the first half but found it difficult to find a way past Togo goalkeeper Abdoul-Moubarak Aigba, and were not helped by wayward finishing from strikers Walid El Karti and Ayoub El Kaabi, who missed six scoring opportunities in the area.
Togo, who are participating in the tournament for the first time, turned the screw after half-time and almost leveled the score, but Yendoutie Nane missed the target from close range after 46 minutes.
Morocco continued to create more chances and dominated possession. El Kaabi, the 2018 CHAN top scorer with nine goals, almost added a second in the 80th minute but his close range effort was blocked by Aigba.
In January 2018, Morocco hosted the fifth edition of the competition and ended up winners after beating Nigeria 4-0 in the final, but the North Africans will have to rethink their attacking strategy if they are to retain the title.
Later on Monday, Rwanda and Uganda drew 0-0, making Morocco leaders of Group C. Rwanda and Morocco will clash on Friday with Uganda meeting Togo in the day's other game.
The CHAN, open for African footballers playing in domestic leagues, was originally scheduled to take place in April last year but was postponed as COVID-19 swept the globe.
It is one of the largest football tournaments to take place anywhere in the world since the outbreak of the pandemic.