Monday, January 30, 2012

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31.01. (Tue) 19:00 Niger - Morocco

CAN 2012 : Mbarek Boussoufa (Morocco)


DaoudaMazadou, Amadou, Chicoto, Soumaila
Djibo, Laouali, Lancina, Garba
Moussa, Alhassane


LamyaghriBasser, Boukhriss, Kantari, Kaddouri
Belhanda, Kharja
Amrabat, Boussoufa, Taarabt

Although they put in a much-improved performance against Tunisia compared to their dismal showing against co-hosts Gabon, Niger still could not avoid a second loss that equated to an early elimination from their first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) experience. Nevertheless, the Mena are determined to build on their impressive outing against the Carthage Eagles and attempt to collect at least a point against the other north Africans of Group C, Morocco.
Niger’s players all expressed relief at having shown that they deserved to qualify for the 2012 Afcon ahead of defending champions Egypt, but they are still searching for their first points at the competition and claim that they are hungry for more. Though Roland Courbis’ apparent take-over of the team has confused many onlookers considering Harouna Gabde is still technically the head coach, the 11 men on the pitch will be keen to perform their best no matter who is running things on the sideline.
While Niger’s elimination was expected, Morocco’s was not and the Atlas Lions are still trying to figure out how things went so terribly wrong. Houssine Kharja and his team-mates were not able to hold back an energised Gabon that showed superior physical fitness and mental resolve, particularly in the latter stages of the encounter. Mehdi Benatia received his second yellow during that match and will miss out on this final game due to suspension.
Coach Eric Gerets has expressed a desire to see out his contract but a pointless display thus far has brought additional scrutiny and more criticism than he’s faced during his entire tenure, particularly due to his high wages compared to other Africa-based colleagues. This game may seem meaningless to his players but his slip-up against Niger, widely considered the weakest team in the group, would raise the pressure considerably on the Belgian manager.

  • Morocco beat Niger by the score of 6-1 in Rabat 10 years ago. It is the heaviest victory they’ve inflicted on the Mena in all their confrontations.
  • Niger have only beaten the Atlas Lions on one occasion, a 1-0 home victory in 1991.
  • Tuesday’s game will be the sixth time the two sides have faced each other. Four out of the five previous ones were Moroccan wins, the most recent of which was a 3-0 triumph in 2011 in Marrakech.
  • Niger's star striker, Moussa Maazou has already secured a loan deal from CSKA Moscow to Le Mans on the strength of his performances at the 2012 Afcon.
  • Tunisia midfielder Khaled Korbi praised Niger while speaking to's Kingsley Kobo and said that the Mena have a fantastic future ahead of them.
Niger will continue to battle hard but Morocco's technicians will probably find the holes in their defence and make them pay for it.
Editor's Prediction
Niger 1-3 Morocco