Morocco readies for African Cup

Updated: 25 February 2007 08:48 IST

Morocco's national soccer team has started preparations for the African Nations Cup, which takes place in Tunisia from January 24.

Morocco readies for African Cup

Rabat:

Morocco's national soccer team has started preparations for the African Nations Cup, which takes place in Tunisia from January 24. The showcase for African soccer will feature, amongst others, the holders Cameroon, big guns Nigeria and Senegal, South Africa, Egypt and the tournament hosts. Morocco won the African Cup of Nations only once, in 1976, and have failed to even come close since then. The country can boast a host of stars who have established themselves in European leagues, but they were unable to lead the team past the first round at the previous African Cup of Nations in 2002. Tough competition The forthcoming competition, which will take place in Tunisia from January 24, 2004, is expected to be the most hotly contested in years. The fact that four of the five countries bidding to host the 2010 World Cup a€" South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco a€" are taking part will certainly add spice to the event. Morocco, who are also known as the Atlas Lions, face a tough task in trying to get through the group stage a€" they were drawn against South African, Nigeria and Benin in Group D. But, despite their difficult schedule, former PSG and Sunderland midfielder Talal Al Karkouri is optimistic. "The preparations are good and we are playing friendly games to correct some mistakes made in previous matches. We are going to Spain for training camp in December, there we'll get things right. I'm really optimistic for the future of national team," he said. Pressure on coach Morocco's current head coach Badou Zaki is rated as one of the best goalkeepers in the Atlas Lions' history. Badou's appointment came after successive failures by foreign heavyweights Humberto Coelho of Portugal and Frenchman Henri Michel. But he is not promising miracles. "If I told you that we'll win the African Cup of Nations I'll be exaggerating because I only started my work about a year ago and I do what I can with what I have," he said. Following the failure to reach the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and the embarrassing exit from the last African Cup of Nations, the pressure is on Zaki to lead Morocco to the latter stages of the 2004 African Cup of Nations and the 2006 World Cup in Germany. (AP)

Topics : Football
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