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By The Atlas Lions, Jun 25 2019 03:51PM

( Morocco star Mbark Boussoufa is hoping for a better performance when they face Ivory Coast on Friday.

The Atlas Lions started their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group D campaign with a 1-0 win over Namibia in Egypt on Sunday.

Boussoufa walked away with the Man of the Match award following his impressive display at the Al Salam Stadium.

The Al Shabab midfielder feels that Morocco needs to improve as they look to reach the round of 16.

"We were the better side and missed many chances," Boussoufa said.

"The first game is always difficult. We are happy to win even by a slim margin.

"We hope to continue on good results and to perform better next time."

Morocco will take on Ivory Coast in their second Group D match at the Al Salam Stadium.

South Africa are scheduled o face Namibia in the other Group D game at the same venue on Friday.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 21 2019 01:20PM

After standout campaigns with their European club sides this season, Mohamed Salah, Hakim Ziyech, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez now find themselves in Egypt for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2019. However, the quartet, who will be among the headliners at the 32nd edition of the continental championship set to kick off on 21 June, are not the only stars on show. We take a look at eight marvels from the Mother Continent who could dazzle in the land of the Pharaohs.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

One of the driving forces behind a magnificent season for Liverpool that culminated in their UEFA Champions League triumph, the irrepressible winger will be trying to keep that going and land his first national-team title after the disappointment of finishing runners-up in this competition two years ago. A veritable living legend in his homeland, Salah will not be short of motivation, as he will be playing on home soil in front of his adoring fans.

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

A team-mate of Salah’s at Liverpool, Mane can also look back fondly at a great season with his club. With a string of goals, assists and wonderful moves, the Senegalese star contributed enormously to the Reds' European triumph. Buoyed by his best ever club season, he will be carrying the hopes of an entire nation at the tournament.

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

Another club to have a stunning Champions League campaign this season were Dutch giants Ajax, due in no small part to the form of the Moroccan winger. Consistently impressive with the Amsterdam outfit, where he has been player of the year for the last two seasons, Ziyech has not yet had the same influence with the Atlas Lions. Egypt 2019 looks like the perfect opportunity to change all that.

Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Despite winning the Premier League last season with Manchester City, Algeria’s dynamic attacking midfielder was frustrated not to have started more games with the Sky Blues. By contrast, Mahrez is at the centre of everything with Les Fennecs and has the full confidence of coach Djamel Belmadi, who will be tasking him with unlocking opposition defences in Egypt.

Nicolas Pepe (Côte d’Ivoire)

Second to Kylian Mbappe in the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 22 goals, the Lille front man was the revelation of the French league last season. Versatile, fast and with wonderful technique, the Ivorian has all the attributes to be a top player. Expected to spearhead the Elephants’ attack, Pepe looks poised to fill a role that has been vacant since the retirement of Didier Drogba.

Andre Onana (Cameroon)

Almost flawless in goal this season with Ajax, the 23-year-old is hoping to continue the proud lineage of Cameroonian keepers established by Joseph Antoine Bell, Thomas N’Kono and Carlos Kameni. He certainly has the potential, and this Cup of Nations could be his chance to prove that he can replicate the form shown on his club’s European adventure.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)

Voted best defender in Italy’s Serie A last season, the rugged and skilful central defender suffered the disappointment of finishing runner-up in the league with Napoli. Now though, he has the chance to put that behind him with Senegal. With Koulibaly at the heart of defence and Mane up front, the Lions of Teranga have two key weapons as they go in search of a long sought-after, maiden continental crown.

Naby Keita (Guinea)

With the versatility to play anywhere in midfield, the Guinean is fit again after a groin injury last month that ruled him out of the UEFA Champions League final and the final weeks of Liverpool’s season. The 24-year-old is understandably keen for a return to competitive action, which is good news for his country. After all, this is a tournament he relishes, having been one of the revelations of the 2015 edition.

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, Apr 12 2019 08:44PM

#TotalAFCON2019 games for #Morocco revealed

2⃣3⃣ June 2019

🇲🇦 🆚 🇳🇦

Stadium: Al Salam Stadium, Cairo

🕟 14h30 GMT

2⃣8⃣ June 2019

🇲🇦 🆚 🇨🇮

Stadium: Al Salam Stadium, Cairo

🕖 17h00 GMT

1⃣ July 2019

🇿🇦 🆚 🇲🇦

Stadium: Al Salam Stadium, Cairo

🕓 16h00 GMT

By The Atlas Lions, Oct 31 2018 02:10PM

( Host Egypt have been handed a tough draw after being paired with former winners, Madagascar, regional rivals Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire in Group A for the final tournament.

The Pharaohs and the other participating teams learnt their fate after the draw on Sunday, 28 October 2018 at the CAF headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. CAF Director of Competitions, Samson Adamu conducted the draw assisted by Egypt coach Ahmed Abdel Razzak.

“We have a North African derby having Morocco in the same group. It will be very tough because all four teams are equally good. We will be playing at home and we will count on the support of all to go farthest in the competition,” Egypt coach Abdal Razzak said.

Holders Senegal, Nigeria, Libya and Tanzania complete Group B. The final tournament scheduled for 8-14 December 2018 in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh.

The finalists will represent at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in November 2019 in Paraguay.

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