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AFCON: Another upset loading… as Morocco face Malawi in ‘Game of our lives’

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Morocco Atlas Lions face Malawi Flames on Tuesday in Yaounde, for the account of the Round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021.

It will be a battle that will put two teams who will be fighting for their lives in the race to win the coveted continental trophy.

Match Card

Date: 25 January 2022

Time: 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT)

Venue: Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde

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Round of 16

Game: Morocco v Malawi

Morocco qualified on top of Group B on seven points. After two wins 1-0 over Ghana and 2-0 over Comoros, Atlas Lions came from behind twice to have a 2-2 draw with Gabon. A late Achraf Hakimi goal made Morocco finish on top of the group.

This is the Atlas Lions’ 18th appearance in this competition, as they are eyeing their second title, almost 46 years after winning their lone title in 1976.

What they said

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Vahid Halilhodzic (Coach, Morocco)

“The players are aware that they must have a combative attitude. The competition has shown here that there are no favorites. Everyone can move forward. We will enter this game with maximum concentration. Fortunately, our players are ready to give their contribution. We came here to win, and our hope is to qualify. I am happy because this is a generation that in a few years will make history. They have the potential to move on”.

Salim Amallah (Midfielder, Morocco)

“It won’t be an easy game. We had the opportunity to watch Malawi games. They have excellent teamwork and that counts a lot for any team. Our confidence levels are up and positive. We hope we can count on Achraf (Hakimi) for tomorrow’s game. He is a player we need to give confidence to the group”.

Malawi – History written

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In their third AFCON appearance, Malawi had already written a history for themselves, going beyond the group stage for the very first time. Now they are eyeing one more step forward.

After falling 1-0 to Guinea, the Flames responded in style, beating COSAFA neighbors Zimbabwe 2-1 before holding giants Senegal to a goalless draw that ensured their place in the Round of 16 as one of the best four third-place teams.

A feat that raised the morale of Malawi players to the highest levels, and facing Morocco, they have nothing to lose and everything to win against the 1976 champions.

What they said

Mario Marinica (Coach, Malawi)

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“We have prepared for this game as we have done in previous games. We are organized and we will take the field with full determination. We continue to work together. Defensively Malawi is a strong team with very good players. We will try to play the best way. We have faced all difficulties with hard work and confidence.”

John Banda (Captain, Malawi)

“The team is physically and emotionally well. Morocco game is the biggest game of our lives, and we are looking forward to it. We respect Morocco, but we don’t fear them. We played this opponent twice three years ago and I was present in all games. It is true that they are favorites, but we are here to play our game and pursue our goals.”

-Cafonline

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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