‘We are not the favorites’: Morocco skipper

Morocco defender Romain Saïss insists that his team has a responsibility to match their remarkable 2022 World Cup performance at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), but he downplays reports suggesting they are favorites for the title.

Ahram Online , Tuesday 9 Jan 2024,
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Romain Sa ss AFP

 

The Atlas Lions made history by becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar 2022.

Saïss acknowledges that their success at the World Cup has fueled their ambition for more, but he warns against labeling them as favorites and predicts a highly competitive tournament.

"From my point of view, we are not the favorites," Saïss told BBC Africa on Tuesday. 

"Reaching such a high level raises the bar. We want to maintain that standard, help Moroccan football progress, and keep pushing." 

He emphasizes that it's not pressure but a responsibility for the team to build on their achievements.

"I understand why some might say that, but none of us players were born when Morocco last won the AFCON, and our coach was playing when they last reached the final," he explained.

The Al-Shabab defender highlighted the strength of other teams in the competition, including Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Algeria, and Egypt, who possess vast experience.

Saïss believes that every game in Africa is tough and unpredictable.

He anticipates a grueling competition and emphasizes the need for mental preparedness to go all the way, stating that this could be one of the hardest AFCON tournaments in history.

Morocco have won the Nations Cup title only once, in the 1976 edition.

They will begin their AFCON campaign against Tanzania on January 17th in Group F, which also includes DR Congo and Zambia.

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Group A W D L P
Nigeria
2 1 0 7
Equatorial Guinea
2 1 0 7
Cote d Ivoire
1 0 2 3
Guinea Bissau
0 0 3 0
Group B W D L P
Cape Verde
2 1 0 7
Egypt
0 3 0 3
Ghana
0 2 1 2
Mozambique
0 2 1 2
Group C W D L P
Senegal
3 0 0 9
Guinea
1 1 1 4
Cameroon
1 1 1 4
Gambia
0 0 3 0
Group D W D L P
Angola
2 1 0 7
Burkina Faso
1 1 1 4
Mauritania
1 0 2 3
Algeria
0 2 1 2
Group E W D L P
Mali
1 2 0 5
South Africa
1 1 1 4
Namibia
1 1 1 4
Tunisia
0 2 1 2
Group F W D L P
Morocco
2 1 0 7
DR Congo
0 3 0 3
Zambia
0 2 1 2
Tanzania
0 2 1 2