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Profiling the AFCON teams: Morocco

Morocco will be playing in their 17th AFCON tournament. (PHOTOS/AGENCIES)

Morocco will be featuring in their 17th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament and second in a row since 2017.  Morocco have won the AFCON title once in their history, with the triumph coming in 1976.

In the 2019 edition, Morocco is in Group D alongside Ivory Coast, South Africa and Namibia.

Morocco did not feature in the first 1972 AFCON editions because, either they never entered qualification, withdrew or lost their respective qualifiers.

For the 1972 edition in Cameroon, Morocco made their debut at the finals’ tournament. However, they did not perform at high levels as they drew all their Group B games 1-1, and finished third behind Zaire and Congo hence elimination.

After their debut, they opted not to enter into qualification for the 1974 edition in Egypt.

Their return two years later would however be inked in the history of Moroccan football as they won their only AFCON title. After two victories and a draw, Morocco finished as Group B winners. The Atlas Lions marched on into the Championship group which they also led by 5 points and in the process win the 1976 AFCON title.

Morocco won their only AFCON title in 1976.

At the next edition, Morocco failed to replicate their 1976 show as they failed to exit Group B which had the likes of Uganda, Tunisia and Congo.

The Atlas Lions went on to seal their spot in Nigeria 80, and were drawn into Group B alongside Algeria, Ghana and Guinea. Morocco finished as runners ups to Algeria and clinched a semifinal spot. In the last four, Morocco lost 1-0 to Nigeria but were on hand to defeat Egypt 2-0 in the third place playoff game, finishing third in the tournament.

1982 and 84 would be huge disappointments for Morocco as they failed to make it to the finals tournaments of both editions, falling in the qualifiers.

The made it to the 1886 and 88 editions, finishing fourth on both occasions before failing to qualify for Algeria 90.

The 92 edition saw Morocco make their 7th appearance at the finals which was short lived following a group stage elimination. This was followed up with two consecutive no-shows at both the 94 and 96 tournaments.

In Burkina Faso 98, the Atlas Lions once again qualified for the finals, topped Group D with 7 points and marched onto the quarter finals. However, that is where their journey stopped as they lost 2-1 to then defending champions South Africa.

For 2000 and 2002, Morocco were eliminated at the Group stages of the respective tournaments.

2004 would prove to be another successful edition for the Atlas Lions as they for the second time in their history reached the finals. Unlike on the first time, this time round, Morocco lost the final 2-1 to hosts Tunisia.

The two next editions (2006 and 2008) saw Morocco eliminated at the group stages. This was followed up by failing to qualify for the 2010 finals in Angola.

Two more consecutive Group stage eliminations would come to pass in the 2012 and 13 editions.

In the 2015 edition, Morocco was disqualified for refusing to host the AFCON finals after the initial host withdrew.

Their last appearance to date came in the 2017 edition in Gabon. Morocco was placed in group C alongside DR Congo, Ivory Coast and Togo. After two victories and one loss, the Atlas Lions finished second behind DR Congo, marching to the quarter finals. However, it was in the last 8 that their tournament ended as they lost 1-0 to Egypt.

Coach

Herve Renard 

Herve is a 50-year-old French manager who has been Morocco’s head coach since 2016.

Herve has been the head coach of Morocco since 2016.

He began his coaching career with SC Draguignan in 1999, leaving in 2001. He was Assistant at Chinese side Shanghai Cosco with head coach Claude Le Roy from 2002 to 2003, and managed English side Cambridge United in 2004, having first joined the club with Le Roy to serve as a coach.

He became manager of Vietnamese club Song Da Nam Dinh in 2004, leaving them after several months. He became manager of AS Cherbourg in 2005, leaving them in 2007. He next became Assistant to Claude Le Roy for the Ghana national team.

In May 2008, he was appointed manager of Zambia. At the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, he led Zambia to the quarter final stage of the tournament for the first time in 14 years. Herve left his duties as Zambia manager in April 2010 with only two months remaining on his contract. Two days later he agreed to become manager of Angola. He resigned from his position as Angola manager in October 2010, and was replaced by Zeca Amaral.

From there, he went on to manage USM Alger, Zambia, Sochaux, Ivory Coast and Lille before taking over as Morocco head coach in February 2016.

In November 2017, he qualified Morocco to the in Russia, their first since 1998. Later that month, he signed a new contract, until 2022.

Star Player

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech is an attacking midfielder who plays for Eredivise side Ajax Amsterdam.

Ziyech started out at Heerenven before he was transferred to FC Twente in 2014. He spent two years there and eventually signed for Ajax in 2016. At Ajax, Ziyech has won two titles. He was part of the team that won the League and Cap double last season. Ziyech was also named in the Champions League team of the season in the 2018/19 season.

At 26, Ziyech has played 250 games for his three clubs, scoring 87 goals.

For Morocco, he is capped 23 times with 12 goals.

Ziyech has so far managed 12 goals for Morocco.

Projection: Champions

Ivory Coast fixtures at AFCON 2019

-Namibia vs Morocco, 23nd June

-Morocco vs Ivory Coast, 28th June

-South Africa vs Morocco, 01th July

Morocco’s squad for AFCON 2019

Goalkeepers: Yassine Bounou (Girona), Mounir El Kajoui (Malaga), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)

Defenders: Marouane Da Costa (Ittihad Djeddah,), Ghanem Saiss (Wolverhampton), Abdelhamid Yunis (Stade Reims), Mehdi Benatia (Al-Duhail Sports), Achraf Hakimi (Dortmund), Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax Amsterdam), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü,).

Midfielders: Karim El Ahmadi Arroussi (Al Ittihad, Saudi), Youssef Aït Bennasser (St-Etienne,), Mehdi Bourabia (Sassuolo), M’barek Boussoufa (Al-Shabab,), Younès Belhanda (Galatasaray,), Fayçal Fajr (Caen), Nordin Amrabat (Al-Nasr,), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam).

Forwards: Youssef En-Nesyri (Leganes), Soufiane Boufal (Celta Vigo), Abderazak Hamad Allah (Al-Nasr), Khalid Boutayeb (Zamalek), Oussama Idrissi (AZ Alkmaar).

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