BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Morocco, one of the power houses of African football take on lowly rated Namibia as the Africa Cup of Nations gets to Match Day Three. In the preceding matches, lowly rated teams have moved close to causing upsets as happened in the Egypt versus Zimbabwe, Guinea versus Madagascar and Nigeria versus Burundi.
In fact, Uganda’s 2-0 defeat of DR Congo was an upset as it was Uganda’s first win of an Africa Cup of Nations match since their 2-1 win over Nigeria in 1978.
Namibia could therefore draw inspirations from the performances of Zimbabwe, Burundi, Uganda and Madagascar in their match with Morocco. In their only Africa Cup of nations clash, Morocco beat Namibia 5-1 at Ghana 2008.
The North Africans, though overwhelming favourites, have not been impressive in their build-up to the championship.
Their coach, Herve Renard is not oblivious of possible upset as Group D campaign begins at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.
“The first match is always difficult because all the teams start with a great motivation. We must expect a tough meeting and it is up to us to make it easy”, he said.
He is one of the most experienced coaches on African football having won titles with Zambia in 2012 and Cote d’Ivoire in 2015.
If he achieves success with Morocco this year, he becomes the first coach to score a hat-trick with three different teams.
“It is not the time we prefer, these conditions are not easy but we must manage these parameters by avoiding technical errors and making the difference as quickly as possible”, Renard remarked.
His counterpart Ricardo Mannetti expects a hard mission as his team returns to the continent’s flagship competition after 11 years of absence.
“It will be a difficult meeting, we do not take into account their defeats in friendly matches, because we will play against one of the tournament favorites”, he admitted.
Despite this, Namibia, participating in its third AFCON, hopes to create the surprise. “We will do our best to get the 3 points, because we are here to give the best and to make our fans happy”, added the Brave Warriors coach.