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AFCON 2019: Morocco, Ivory Coast in tasty Group D encounter

Morocco lived it late to defeat Namibia last Sunday. (PHOTOS/Agencies)

AFCON 2019

Morocco vs Ivory Coast

Al Salaam Stadium, Cairo

Friday, 28-06-2019 @8pm

Group D will be the center of attraction on Friday as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations continues.

Two of this year’s favourites Morocco and Ivory Coast will clash at the Al Salaam Stadium in Cairo, with the winner sealing a spot in the last 16.

Morocco got off to a winning start, requiring a late Litamunua Keimuine own goal to take care of stubborn Namibia in the game played last Sunday.

The Atlas Lions were frustrated for huge spells against the South African nation until an Hakim Ziyech free-kick was turned into his own net by the striker.

Morocco needs to forget about the game against Namibia and focus on the task at hand, one which will indeed shape the fate of the group.

“The game against Namibia no longer holds much importance, said Morocco head coach Herve Renard ahead of Friday’s game against his former employers Ivory Coast.

“We have to focus on the game tomorrow (Friday) which I think is not any other group game.

“I think the goal of the two teams is to go much further in the competition.”

Renard was the manager of Ivory Coast between 2014 and 2015, helping them to their second AFCON time in his last year in charge.

The Frenchman says he is fortunate to have been coach of the Elephants at what he terms as the right time.

“In my career, I had the good fortune to be coach of this Ivory Coast team.

“I have simply been lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and the Ivory Coast will always be a magnificent memory.

Just like Morocco, Ivory Coast were winners in their opening game, defeating South Africa 1-0 on Sunday.

Jonathan Kodjia scored the lone goal for the Elephants, one that means they start the day joint top of the standings in Group B.

Kodjia (Left) scored the winner for Ivory Coast against South Africa.

Kodjia made up for missing a gilt-edged chance in the first half with a 65th-minute winner after being set up by former Leeds player Max Gradel.

With a host of high profile players including Lille’s Nicholas Pepe, in their ranks, Ivory Coast are big favourites to walk away with the AFCON title this year.

Both sides go into the game without any injury worries.

Ivory Coast’s Wilfred Zaha will be pushing for a start after coming off the bench against South Africa. However, the Crystal Palace star-player did not impress in his brief comeo against Bafana Bafana and it will come as no surprise if he is out of the starting XI once again.

This will be the 9th meeting between the two sides since January 2006.

In the past 8 match-ups between the two, they have drawn five with Morocco triumphing twice and losing only once.

The Atlas Lions are unbeaten in their last 7 games against the Elephants, winning both of the last two encounters.

The last time the two met in an AFCON game, Ivory Coast defeated Morocco 1-0 with Didier Drogba scoring the only goal of the contest in January 2006

South Africa and Namibia who both have no points, square off later in the night in the other Group D game.

The other games on Tuesday

-Tunisia vs Mali @5:30pm

-South Africa vs Namibia @11pm

Thursday’s results

-Madagascar 1-0 Burundi

-Senegal 0-1 Algeria

-Kenya 3-2 Tanzania

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