One of the heavily fancied Africa Cup of Nations favourites Morocco will get their campaign underway on Wednesday January 17 evening when they take on Tanzania at Stade de San Pedro in Cote D’Ivoire.
Group F also features two-time champions Congo DR and 2012 winners Zambia, who will face off in the other match in this group at this venue directly after the completion of this fixture.
Fair to say, the Moroccans raised the bar for African football a little over a year ago at the 2022 World Cup, and the spotlight will now be on them to follow up in the continental competition, where they have a relatively disappointing track record.
After withdrawing from the 2022 African Nations Championship due to travel problems, Morocco were given a reality check last June, with two matches tempering the soaring euphoria of their World Cup semi-final achievement in Qatar.
The first was a goalless draw to Cape Verde, followed by a 2#1 loss to South Africa in qualifying for this competition, while a final wake-up call came after they were held to a 1#1 draw by the Cote D’Ivoire in October.
Following that result, head coach Walid Regragui pointed out that he felt that the Atlas Lions were not the favourites to win the AFCON, but they won each of the three proceeding matches against Liberia, Tanzania and Sierra Leone last week.
Morocco have only lifted the AFCON trophy once in their history, back in 1976, but with one of the most impressive lineups on paper, this feels like their moment, and they will be under immense pressure to make a statement against a favourable opponent in their opening match on Wednesday January 17, 2024.
Meanwhile, Tanzania come into this competition ranked 31st among African footballing nations according to FIFA and are the biggest outsiders to qualify for the knockout stages from Group F.
The Taifa Stars are set to make their third appearance in the AFCON, having previously participated in the 1980 and 2019 editions. Their last stint in the tournament saw them facing defeats in all three of their matches.
However, under the leadership of Algerian coach Adel Amrouche, expectations are high that the Taifa Stars will showcase an improved performance compared to their previous outing, albeit that they will likely be targeting Congo DR and Zambia as matches they could take something from.
Tanzania earned qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations by securing a heroic 0#0 draw against Algeria in their final qualification match, displaying resilience and determination to frustrate their illustrious opponent and secure the crucial point needed for advancement while holding off Uganda and Niger in the process.
Since then, the Taifa Stars have played a total of four matches, which saw them manage one win over Niger and a draw against Sudan before suffering back-to-back defeats against the Atlas Lions and Egypt.
For Morocco, Bayern Munich defender Noussair Mazraoui carried an injury into the tournament and is a doubt to feature here, which should lead to Attiat Allah stepping in as his replacement at left-back.
Hakim Ziyech scored for the Atlas Lions against Tanzania in November and will be a key player in the side’s midfield alongside Manchester United’s Sofyan Amrabat and Marseille’s Azzedine Ounahi.
Morocco possess a start-studded backline that is likely to feature Yassine Bounou in goal, with Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saiss in central defence, while Achraf Hakimi should line up at right full-back.
Amrouche has called upon Haji Mnoga and Ben Starkie, who play in the English non-league with Aldershot Town and Ilkeston Town respectively, to represent the country at this year’s tournament, and the pair are expected to feature in the starting squad.
PAOK attacker Mbwana Samatta has been pinpointed as a potential key player for the Taifa Stars in the competition; the former Genk, Fenerbahce and Aston Villa striker has notched up two goals and two assists in 14 Greek Super League matches this season.
Morocco possible starting XI
Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Allah; Amrabat, Ziyech, Ounahi, Harit, Adli; En-Nesyri
Tanzania possible starting XI
Kamawa; Mnoga, Mwaikenda, Mwamnyeto, Hamad, Yahya; Salum, Mao, Yassin, Msuva; Samatta
Copyright 2024 © kick442.com.
All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, written in full or parts, without a written permission from our management
This site is not responsible for contents displayed by external sites