Atlas Lions lock horns with Les Elephants in Group D thriller

Nabil Dirar of Morocco leads a warm up during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Namibia at Training at Al-Salaam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 23 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

It would be Group D “Match of the Day” when Morocco locks horns with Cote d’Ivoire at the Cairo based El Salam Stadium on Friday night at 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT) as the group enters its match day 2.

After achieving identical 1-0 victories in the opening match day over Namibia and South Africa respectively, Atlas Lions (Morocco) and Les Elephants (Cote d’Ivoire) want to achieve another victory to make sure of their place in the knockout stages

Morocco emerged victorious when both sides locked horns at the same stage in the previous edition at Gabon 2017. A result that saw the Elephants eliminated from the group stage then. Morocco also knocked Cote d’Ivoire out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifications group.

But Cote d’Ivoire coach Ibrahim Kamara admitted there’s nothing called revenge in football, and that he just wants to see his side into the next round.

“There is nothing called revenge in football. We just play to win as we want to qualify to the next round”, Kamara said in the pre match press conference. “I worked with Morocco coach Herve Renard and I respect him well. He is a great coach with a very good team. But we are here to win and move on”, he added.

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Meanwhile, Morocco coach Renard is facing an emotional experience when he once again faces the team he led to continental glory in 2015. “Memories are a beautiful part of my history. But what matters now is the present, and I’m now the coach of Morocco”, stated Renard.

“Being coach of this great team makes me proud. I’m lucky to coach these players and we want to go the farthest point”.

Previous AFCON encounters

20.03.1986     Cairo              Morocco 2-3 Cote d’Ivoire

19.03.1988     Casablanca    Morocco 0-0 Cote d’Ivoire

21.01.2006     Cairo              Morocco 0-1 Cote d’Ivoire

24.01.2017     Oyem             Morocco 1-0 Cote d’Ivoire

What they said

Herve Renard (Coach, Morocco)

The past is history now and the titles I won before are memories. What matters is today and what we have to do in this competition. You have to work to get the results and we know well our responsibilities. We watched Cote d’Ivoire against South Africa and they deserved to win; they are one of the tournament’s favorites. I’m lucky to be the coach of this fine group of players.

Younis Belhenda (forward, Morocco)

We are one team and whoever plays is the coach’s decision. I’m always happy to work with (Herve) Renard because he have the passion and the will to make Moroccans happy. We respect the Ivoirians and we will do our best to win.

Ibrahim Kamara (Coach, Cote d’Ivoire)

There’s no revenge in football. All what’s in our mind is to win and reach the next round. Morocco is a very strong and organized team and we are facing one of the tournament’s favorites. We are building a young team that needs more experience and we are taking each game at time. Everything can happen in this game.

Jean Michel Seri (Midfielder, Cote d’Ivoire)

I hope to be ready for this match after missing three weeks through injury. We know AFCON is a special tournament that is different from physical and technical aspects. We are doing our best for the team.