Africa Cup of Nations 2023 hosts, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria’s most formidable opponents in the Group A will this Saturday evening take on Africa’s most ranked football team, Morocco in a friendly match at the at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan
Morocco’s Coach Walid Regragui told the media that the friendly match will serve as a valuable test for Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire ahead of the continental tournament.
“We’ve come to sense the atmosphere of the African Cup, We’ve put ourselves in a challenging situation against a strong team like Cote d’Ivoire,” Regragui added.
He also stressed the importance of focusing on preparations rather than the outcome of friendly matches.
“Friendly matches are meant for preparation. Winning every friendly match but failing in the first round of the AFCON doesn’t interest me. The idea is to be prepared at the right time, not before or after,” the coach underlined.
Reflecting on his knowledge of the Ivorian team, Regragui recalled facing them in 2006 and stressed the importance of not underestimating their capabilities.
“The Ivorians, I know them. I played against them in 2006 with the Drogba generation. We should never underestimate the Ivorians,” he said.
But Morocco has a “strong” team, the coach said, noting: “That’s why I believe this will be an excellent test.”
He also spoke of his expectations for the upcoming tournament, saying that “there are at least ten teams that can win the AFCON.”
Yet, he noted that all eyes will be on Morocco due to the Atlas Lions’ performance at the Qatar World Cup last year.