AFCON favourites Morocco will look to take a huge step toward the knockout stages of the competition when they take on the DR Congo at Stade Laurent Pokou on Sunday January 21, 2024.
Group F in this competition also features Zambia and Tanzania, who will square off in the other match in this group at this venue directly after the conclusion of this showdown between the current group leaders.
While Morocco have won the competition only once in their history, in 1976, and made the final on one other occasion in 2004, they currently boast arguably the best squad of players the country has ever seen.
With that, though, coupled with a historic fourth-placed finish at the World Cup in Qatar, comes tremendous expectancy, but the Atlas Lions lived up to those expectations in their tournament opener when they secured a convincing 3#0 win over group outsiders Tanzania.
Despite featuring a formidable attacking unit, Morocco restricted the Taifa Stars to a meagre two shots at goal.
Attacking play comes naturally to the Atlas Lions, as they showed on Wednesday when they fired 14 shots at goal with seven on target, and they probably could have got a few more had they not eased off the accelerator in the latter stages.
Walid Regragui’s side have started games particularly well and have led at the break in each of their last four matches while scoring 12 goals in their last five games, averaging over two goals per 90 minutes.
While Morocco head into this match as the out-and-out favourites, history shows that Congo DR have fared well against the Atlas Lions in AFCON competition and should not be written off just yet.
These two have met in the Africa Cup of Nations five times in the past and have shared one win apiece, while the remaining three matches ended level. Only Egypt and Nigeria have faced off in more AFCON group stage matches than Morocco and Congo DR.
The Leopards came into this competition as the second-favourite to qualify from this group behind Morocco, and they would likely have been fairly disappointed with only taking one point from Zambia in their first match.
Sebastian Desabre’s side were by far the more attacking in the match, firing 25 shots at goal but were guilty of some poor decision-making in the final third that saw them only register a single goal.
DR Congo, having won the AFCON twice before, comes into this game as the more successful side in the competition, but things have changed drastically in recent years, and they will need to be at their best to stand a chance against the mighty Moroccans.
Roman Saiss has been the heart of the Moroccan defence in recent years, and the former Wolverhampton Wanderers player showed his value at the other end of the field on Wednesday when he opened the scoring for his side.
Saiss’s defensive partner Noussair Mazraoui did not feature in midweek due to an injury, and the Bayern Munich defender has been flagged as a doubt for this match as well.
Youssef En-Nesyri opened his account with the final goal of the match and should lead the line again on Sunday, while Sofiane Boufal will hope to make the starting 11 after coming off the bench last time out.
For Congo DR, Brentford attacker Yoane Wissa scored the only goal for his side against Zambia, and he will spearhead the attack once again alongside Galatasaray forward Cedric Bakambu.
Meschak Elia looked good after coming off the bench for Gael Kakuta and could be promoted to the first 11, while Braga forward Simon Banza is another who will be pushing for a starting role here after featuring for just 10 minutes in midweek.
Morocco possible starting XI
Bono; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Chibi; Ounahi, Amrabat, Ziyech, Harit; El Khannouss, En-Nesyri
Congo DR possible starting XI
M’Pasi; Masuaku, Kiranga, Mbemba, Kalulu; Kakuta, Moutoussamy, Pickel; Wissa, Bongonda, Bakambu
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