The Atlas Lions of Morocco are still considered to be one of the superpowers of Africa Football despite boasting of one Africa Cup of Nations Final, won 43 years ago in 1976.
They have been close on so many occasions but going past the different tournament hurdles has been part of the game.
The 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations is another opportunity for Morocco to break that jinx, although head coach Herve Renard is not willing to raise anyone’s hopes.
“I don’t know…. everything is possible in football but first we have to look at our opening game which is the most important, then step by step,” Renard told www.cafonline.com ahead of their opening game against Namibia.
“We have a tough group and it will be very important to come to Egypt with an ambition of respect all our opponents,” he added.
The Frenchman is the first coach in African football history to win the AFCON with two different teams after achieving the feat with Zambia (2012) and Ivory Coast (2015).
At the edition in Egypt, Morocco are in Group C with Renard’s former bosses Ivory Coast, South Africa and Namibia, a group he describes as ‘very tough’.
“We are in a very tough group and we need to come in here very concentrated. We have to be ready from the first game to get a good result which will give us some confidence going forward,” the 50 year old said.
The 50-year old will be counting on the experience from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where despite bowing out in the group stages, the Atlas Lions gave encouraging performances.
They finished bottom of the group after replicate 1-0 losses to Iran and Portugal and drew 2-2 with Spain who equalized in the final minute of added time.
“This experience will be very important because we played very good football. Though we didn’t get the result we wanted, all Moroccans were proud of their team. Now, we have to make them very happy again in Egypt.”
“We are coming in with an ambition and if you come with an ambition you have to beat everyone. We have a very good team and we need to believe in ourselves,” he noted before revealing that going through the final will be tough with a 24 team tournament.
“The expansion makes it more difficult because there is one more round to play and the teams are more ambitious. But we are hoping to go very far in this tournament.”
Morocco topped their qualification group B ahead of defending champions Cameroon with both sides picking 11 points.