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Les Lions de l'Atlas


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By The Atlas Lions, Jun 23 2019 05:24PM


CAIRO — A last-minute own goal handed Morocco a narrow 1-0 victory over plucky Namibia at the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday in a far-from-convincing start from one of the pre-tournament favorites.

Substitute Itamunua Keimune botched an attempted clearance and headed the ball into his own net at the end of a free kick from Morocco midfielder Hakim Ziyech in the 89th minute of the opening Group D game at the Al Salam Stadium.

Morocco coach Herve Renard, who has won two Cup of Nations titles, had warned that the opening game for many of the tournament favorites may be difficult and his forecast proved true as Namibia goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua produced several key stops.

But his heroics did not extend to the last minute as Morocco took all three points in fortuitous circumstances.

The free kick evaded several defenders before the bounce caught out Keimune who inadvertently steered it past his own goalkeeper in a heartbreaking outcome for underrated Namibia, playing in just their third Cup of Nations.

Kazapua saved several efforts throughout the game, including a quick-thinking scramble with an outstretched leg in the 72nd minute, to keep Morocco at bay, with the 47th-ranked team in the world expected to have a comfortable start.

Morocco dominated a game in hot temperatures where the tempo was languid but looked increasingly desperate as the game wore on.

Renard brought on three strikers in the second half with Sofiane Boufal proving lively but also off-target with his efforts.

The other two teams in Group D — Ivory Coast and South Africa — play their opening game on Monday.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 23 2019 05:21PM


Namibian Itamunua Keimuine headed an 89th-minute Hakim Ziyech free-kick into his own net to gift Morocco a 1-0 victory Sunday in the opening Africa Cup of Nations Group D match.

It was cruel blow for the minnows from southern Africa, who lived up to their Brave Warriors nickname by taming the much-vaunted Atlas Lions.

Relief was etched on the face of Morocco coach Herve Renard as the final whistle blew after an unconvincing start by one of the competition favourites.

Renard is the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with two countries, guiding outsiders Zambia and previous underachievers the Ivory Coast to success between 2012 and 2015.

As the match kicked off in 36 degree celsius (97 fahrenheit) heat at the Al Salam Stadium, the bookmakers, the FIFA rankings and Cup of Nations history favoured Morocco.

Morocco are 10/1 joint fifth favourites with bookmakers to win the title, 43 years after the only time they lifted a trophy that symbolises African national team supremacy.

The Atlas Lions lie 66 places above the Brave Warriors in the FIFA world rankings and they triumphed 5-1 on the previous occasion the countries met, 11 years ago.

However, while Morocco enjoyed 60 percent possession during the opening 45 minutes in the sweltering Egyptian capital, they rarely troubled Namibia goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua.

It was a defender, right-back Nabil Dirar, who came closest to ending the stalemate with a fiercely struck 11th-minute shot from long range that flew just over the crossbar.

This was one of six goal attempts by the north Africans during the first half, but only two were on target, while both Namibian efforts went wide.

Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti had warned his Group D opponents before the tournament that "even small dogs bite" and his side were a calm, well-organised outfit in the first half.

The second half was a replica of the first with Morocco pressing continuously and Namibia defending with discipline and intelligence.

Renard introduced Sofiane Boufal, who played for Celta Vigo in La Liga last season on loan from Southampton, and Karim el Ahmadi in an effort to break the deadlock.

The French coach played his final card on 78 minutes, introducing Khalid Boutaib, a familiar figure to Egyptians as he plays for famed Cairo club Zamalek.

Ivory Coast face South Africa Monday at the same stadium in a Group D showdown of former Cup of Nations winners

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 23 2019 01:25PM

Morocco vs Namibia 1-0 Highlights & All Goals

FINAL SCORE: Mor 1-0 Nam


79' K. BOUTAIB comes in for Y. EN-NESYRI

El Ahmadi comes in for @YAitbennasser

58' Boufal comes in for Bourabia

Competition: AFCON 2019

Location: Al-Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt

Kickoff: 14h30 GMT, 16h30 CET

Morocco starting 11 vs Namibia

Bounou-Benatia (C)-Saiss-Hakimi-Dirar-Bourabia-Ait Bennasser-Boussoufa-Ziyech-N. Amrabat-En Nesyri

ياسين بونو والمهدي بنعطية ورومان سايس وأشرف حكيمي ونبيل درار والمهدي بوربيعة ويوسف ايت بناصر ومبارك بوصوفة وحكيم زياش ونور الدين امرابط ويوسف نصيري.

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 11 2019 02:38PM

Goalkeeper: Ratanda Mbazuvara, Loydt Kazapua, Max Mbaeva.

Defenders: Ryan Nyambe, Larry Horaeb, Denzil Haoseb, Ivan Kamberipa, Charles Hambira, Riaan Hanamub, Ananias Gebhardt.

Midfielders: Absalom Iimbondi, Willy Stephanus, Petrus Shitembi, Ronald Ketjijere, Dynamo Fredericks, Marcel Papama, Manfred Starke, Deon Hotto.

Forwards: Itamunua Keimuine, Benson Shilongo, Peter Shalulile, Joslyn Kamatuka and Isaskar Gurirab.

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

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