The Atlas Lions of Morocco have become the first nation to touch down in Côte D’Ivoire for the 34th edition of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to run from January 13 to February 11 this year.
Coach Walid Regragui’s team arrived at the Felix Hougphet Boigney International Airport on Sunday, January 7 to a rousing reception from local authorities, CAF officials, compatriots and even locals before quickly connecting to their base in San Pedro via an Air Côte D’Ivoire flight.
The arrival of captain Roman Saiss and his mates means they have become the first country to reach the West African nation for the sake of the tournament, on the day hosts Côte D’Ivoire break camp to switch to their competition base in Abidjan.
Morocco enters AFCON 2023 as the highest ranked nation on the continent, just over a year after achieving the unprecedented feat of a fourth place finish at a FIFA World Cup tournament.
The 1976 winners and 2004 runners-up to Tunisia are bookies favorite to go all the way in Côte D’Ivoire though they will have to overcome tough hurdles beginning from their group if they have to achieve that.
Morocco is pitted in Group F of the 24-nations tournament, alongside the returning Taifa Stars of Tanzania, two-time winners, the Leopards of DR Congo and Zambia’s Chipolopolo who are back for the first time in four editions with some of the faces that helped them win their only title back in 2012 in Gabon.
The likes of defending champions – Senegal, record winners – Egypt with seven crowns, Cameroon with five titles, hosts Côte D’Ivoire, 2004 winners – Tunisia amongst others are expected to constitute the pool of contenders for the title.
Morocco will get their campaign underway on January 14 with a game against Tanzania before challenging DR Congo and Zambia later in the group stage.
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