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By The Atlas Lions, Jun 17 2019 03:08PM


Morocco national team coach Herve Renard says the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be a key tournament for the future of football on the continent.

This year’s edition of the AFCON is the first to move into the middle of the year – and therefore avoid the issue of African players in major leagues leaving their clubs for an international tournament in the middle of a season – as well as introducing an expanded format of 24 teams (up from the previous number of 16 qualifiers).

“I think both decisions are good for football in Africa. To play in June is much better, even if we could have problems with weather in some parts of Africa,” Renard is quoted by The Scotsman.

“But in terms of relationships with clubs in Europe or anywhere around the world, it is very important because things got complicated previously.”

Renard is looking to become the first man to lead three different nations to AFCON glory, having taken Zambia and the Ivory Coast to the title in 2012 and 2015 respectively.

He has also made his mark in Morocco by guiding them back to the World Cup last year – their first appearance at the global tournament in two decades.

“This will be my seventh tournament,” added the Frenchman. “In terms of the image of Africa, this continent needs to improve because all around the world these days they can watch the tournament.

“This is a key tournament for our football – and I say our football because I consider I am part of Africa too.

“I have been on this continent for so many years now and sometimes I don’t like the image we give to everybody so if we want more positive comments about us to come from other parts of the world then we need to improve.”

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 16 2019 02:20PM

FINAL SCORE: Morocco 2-3 Zambia!

5 minutes of additional time

Mehdi Bourabia comes in for Mehdi Benatia

83' Oussama Idrissi comes in for En-Nesiry

Mbark Boussoufa booked in the 78' minute

75' Fayçal Fajr comes in for Younes Belhanda

Morocco 2-3 Zambia, goal scored in the 74th minute!

60' Yunis Abdelhamid comes in for Romain Saiss

Hakim Ziyech again levels up the score for Morocco from penalty spot 2-2

Second half changes:

Boussoufa for Boufal and Ait Bennasser for El Ahmadi


Zambia take the lead again, 1-2 vs Morocco

42' Achraf Hakimi booked

Hakim Ziyech levels up the score for Morocco against Zambia 1-1 in the 24th minute.

Zambia take the lead 0-1 against Morocco by Musonda

Match is underway!

Match: Morocco Vs Zambia

Kickoff: 16h30 GMT, 18h30 CET

Location: Marrakech

Competition: Friendly

#Morocco starting 1⃣1⃣ 🆚 #Zambia

Bounou-Dirar-Hakimi-Benatia (C)-Saiss-El Ahmadi-Belhanda-Boufal-Ziyech-Amrabat-En Nesyri

Live Broadcast: Bein Sports HD2, Arryadia

Live streaming:

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 16 2019 12:56PM


The assumption is that former champions the Ivory Coast, Morocco and South Africa will wage a private war in Group D at the Africa Cup of Nations with Namibia helpless onlookers.

But Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti questions that belief ahead of the June 21-July 19 tournament in Egypt.

"I would like to remind the big boys that even small dogs have teeth," warned the former national team midfielder.

Namibia have met all their Group D rivals before at the Cup of Nations without success -- conceding five goals against Morocco and four each against the Ivory Coast and South Africa.

Here, AFP Sport looks at a group considered the strongest of the six in the first round with only the winners and runners-up guaranteed round-of-16 places

Ivory Coast

The Ivorians experienced ecstasy and agony in the last two editions, winning the 2015 final in Equatorial Guinea and crashing out after the first round two years ago in Gabon.

It is difficult to fathom how the class of 2019 will fare except to note that they have an attack that many rivals must envy.

Only French superstar Kylian Mbappe scored more Ligue 1 goals last season than Nicolas Pepe and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has tormented many Premier League defenders.

Coach Ibrahim Kamara will also be encouraged by the form of clubless Wilfried Bony, a 2015 Cup of Nations winner who bagged a brace in a recent warm-up match.

Verdict: Probable quarter-finalists; possible semi-finalists


The pressure is on the Cup of Nations coach with the winning touch, Frenchman Herve Renard, to bring the trophy back to Morocco after a 43-year absence.

Morocco finished first ahead of Guinea in 1976 in the only Cup of Nations decided exclusively by groups, but have reached only one final since, losing to 2004 hosts Tunisia.

Renard is the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with different countries, leading outsiders Zambia to glory in 2012 and repeating the feat with underachieving Ivory Coast three years later.

He has retained most of the squad that impressed at the World Cup last year without managing a win and Ajax Amsterdam winger Hakim Ziyech is among those on whom he will rely.

Verdict: Likely finals include Morocco against Egypt


Unlike Kamara, Renard and South Africa coach Stuart Baxter, there is no pressure on Mannetti, who admits his team are lucky just to be in Egypt.

Trounced 4-1 by Zambia in the final qualifying round, the Brave Warriors made it because leaders Guinea-Bissau snatched a stoppage-time draw to deprive Mozambique of second place.

At least Mannetti knows what to expect as Namibia have conceded 13 goals in Cup of Nations matches against the Ivorians, Moroccans and South Africans.

"We do not expect to win the competition, but we need to qualify more often," says the coach. "Once every 10 years or so is not going to get us anywhere."

Verdict: it would be a sensation if they survived first round

South Africa

South Africa go to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable teams.

Bafana Bafana scaled the heights at the outset of 2019 qualifying by winning 2-0 in Nigeria, then sank into mediocrity by drawing 0-0 away to lowly ranked Seychelles.

England-born Baxter blamed the pitch in the Seychelles for the failure to score -- the same surface where Libya netted eight times.

Much will depend on the form of wide attacker Percy Tau, who was loaned to a Belgian second division club last season after signing for Premier League outfit Brighton.

Verdict: Anything is possible with Bafana

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 15 2019 03:53PM

In just a few days the CAN will begin, nine members of Morocco’s national squad will participate in the continental cup for the first time.

By Morocco World News -

Rabat – Nine of the 23 players selected by Atlas Lions coach, Herve Renard, for the CAN 2019 will be competing in the African Cup for the first time.

The squad, including the nine novices, will take part in the 32nd CAN tournament, scheduled from June 21 to July 19 In Egypt.

The players new to CAN are : Hakim Ziyech, Oussama Idrissi, Abdelkarim Baadi, Mehdi Bourbiaa, Yunis Abdelhamid, Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti, Soufiane Boufal, Achraf Hakimi.

The national team, marked by controversy since the exit of Abderazzak Hamdallah from the team’s training camp on Thursday, lost 1-0 to Gambia. The friendly match on June 12 was part of the team’s training for CAN.

Speaking from Marrakech Stadium on Wednesday, June 13, the coach made a statement. “I have faith in my players and I am sure they will be playing a nice African Nations Cup in Egypt.”

“Friendly matches can be a very important deadline for this group, as the objective is to do better than the 2017 CAN, that is, to reach at least the semifinals,” he added.

He finished by saying “Friendly matches are not the main thing for me, letting me know that the group, which was surprised by Gambia today, must know how to get through some difficult challenges.”

Very ambitious during the last World Cup, the Atlas Lions are keen to go far in this African Cup of Nations.

In order to move towards winning the title, the team must first defeat Namibia, Ivory Coast and South Africa in Group D.

Over the past few months numerous football figures have commented on the strength of Morocco’s team going into the competition. Claude Le Roy, an experienced football manager and former player has predicted that Morocco and Senegal will be among the top teams in CAN 2019.

“The most prominent group is Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia. This group is complicated but Morocco seems to me to be above the competition. Atlas Lions will have everything to gain and I think it’s a pretty comfortable situation,” he said.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 13 2019 06:43PM

By Morocco World News

Before the statement was released, rumors ran wild that the footballer walked out the camp due to issues he encountered with his teammates.

Rabat – Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) has issued a statement commenting on the decision of Abderrazak Hamdallah to leave the training camp where the Moroccan team was training in preparation for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (CAN).

The statement announced that the head coach of the Moroccan national football team, Herve Renard, has replaced Hamdallah with Abdelkarim Baadi.

FRMF claimed that Renard made this decision as Hamdallah cannot participate in the CAN due to “back and hip injuries confirmed by medical tests.”

The federation added that the player will undergo a medical examination tomorrow, June 14.

The statement comes as a surprise to Moroccan football fans and observers as the footballer appeared in good shape during the friendly game against Gambia yesterday, on June 12.

In the wake of the team’s loss to Gambia, speculation spread on social media suggesting that Hamdallah left the camp after issues he faced with some members of the Moroccan squad.

Several Moroccan football fans argue that the move was due to a friction between the footballer and his teammates.

Facebook page Hassad Al Kora quoted close sources close to the Moroccan national team, saying that the footballer was not treated well by the rest of the team.

Several sports news outlets also said that the major cause of his exit was a rift with his teammate Faycal Fajr during Wednesday’s friendly match between Morocco and Gambia on Wednesday.

During the game, Hamdallah was supposed to kick a penalty for the Atlas Lions in the second half. To the surprise of football fans, Fajr took the ball from Hamdallah’s hand and played the penalty instead.

The Atlas Lions will take part in the 2019 CAN, which will kick off on June 21 in Egypt. Renard has already announced his lineup for the competition.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 13 2019 03:44PM

By BBC Sports

Morocco coach Herve Renard has replaced Abderrazak Hamdallah in his 23-man squad for next week's Africa Cup of Nations after the striker picked up an injury.

He is replaced by defender Abdelkarim Baadi, who plays for Moroccan side Hassania Agadir, for the tournament in Egypt.

A statement from the Morocco Football Federation explained that Hamdallah has a "back and hip injury and the medical staff have decided he cannot complete the training camp nor play at the Nations Cup."

The federation added he would undergo further 'rigorous tests' on Friday.

He played in Wednesday evening's surprise 1-0 loss to The Gambia in Marrakech and had left the pitch angry that he had not been allowed to take a last minute penalty that was missed by Faycal Fajr.

Hamdallah was included in Renard's squad after a record-breaking season in Saudi Arabia, that saw him score 34 goals in 30 league games as Al Nassr won the league.

His tally broke the all-time record for goals in a Saudi Arabian season.

It was the first time since Renard took over as coach that he had included Hamdallah in a squad.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 12 2019 08:46PM

Johannesburg (AFP) - Morocco, one of the favourites to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, suffered a surprise 1-0 warm-up match loss in Marrakech Wednesday to non-qualifiers the Gambia.

The unexpected outcome can partly be explained by Morocco coach Herve Renard making numerous substitutions in the first of two friendly fixtures before heading to Egypt for the finals.

Musa Barrow, who plays for Serie A club and 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League qualifiers Atalanta, scored the match-winner on 27 minutes at Stade de Marrakech.

It was the second victory for the lowly ranked Gambians over a Cup of Nations qualifier within six days after they defeated Guinea 1-0 last Friday in the same city.

Morocco are in Group D with fellow former champions the Ivory Coast and South Africa and rank outsiders Namibia.

The group is considered the toughest of the six to qualify from and only the winners and runners-up are guaranteed places in the round-of-16 knockout stage.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 12 2019 04:40PM


Fayçal Fajr missed from penalty spot and it's still 0-1 for Gambia

Abdelkrim Baadi comes in for Da Costa

A whole new Moroccan team is fielded in second half!

Tagnaouti-Da Costa (C)-Bourabia-Hakimi-Abdelhamid-Ait Bennasser-Amrabat-Fajr-Idrissi-En Nesyri-HamedAllah

Start of second half!

End of First Half!

Mussa Barrow opens the scoring for Gambia vs Morocco in the 27th minute

🇲🇦 0-1 🇬🇲

Starting Lineup: Bounou-Benatia (C)-Saiss-Dirar-Mazraoui-Belhanda-El Ahmadi-Boussoufa-Ziyech-Boufal-Boutaib

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