Morocco's Atlas Lions held former champions Zambia to a 0-0 draw today in a warm-up match for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Sport24, Lusaka Times, AFP (Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan. 8, 2013) - Morocco held African champions Zambia to a 0-0 draw at the Rand Stadium on Tuesday in a warm-up match for the 2013 Cup of Nations tournament. The Atlas Lions have not lost to Zambia since 1993.Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets) wasted several scoring chances and when Mukuka Mulenga unleashed a powerful shot eight mintues from time, goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri deflected it on to the woodwork and the ball was cleared.
Morocco face hosts South Africa, Angola and the Cape Verde Islands in Group A while Zambia are in Group C with Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Nigeria of the 22-day championship that kicks off on January 19 in Soweto.
The result came as a relief to France-born Zambia coach Herve Renard, who has come under media fire after friendly losses in Saudi Arabia and Tanzania last month and to Angola in Johannesburg last Saturday.
Prior to the match, Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi said he hoped it would provide his young side with a cohesiveness ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
"A national team is made up of players who don't get together often and I want to find cohesiveness in the team, it's very important," he told AFP in Rabat ahead of their departure to South Africa.
The former winners, first round casualties at the 2012 Nations Cup, start off their campaign against Angola on January 19, followed by debutants Cape Verde and hosts South Africa.
"We've still got work to do to get this team ready," said Taoussi, who replaced Belgian Eric Gerets after last year's disappointing early exit in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
With Zambia, followed by Namibia on Saturday, Morocco have "two good sparring partners", said Taoussi, who secured the North African country's presence in the January 19-February 10 event with a qualifying success over Mozambique in October.
Reflecting on the youthfulness of his squad he added: "I have all the weapons on the psychological front to overcome the obstacle of players who have never played in the competition before but who are capable of producing a good Nations Cup.
"I'm a man who loves a challenge, I like to call on players who are thirsty, who are hungry. When D-Day arrives, we'll be ready."
Starting lineups for today's Morocco vs. Zambia match:
Zambia: Kennedy Mweene, Chisamba Lungu, Hichani Himoonde, Davies Nkausu, Jacob Mulenga, Isaac Chansa, Chris Katongo, Stoppila Sunzu, Rainford Kalaba, Emmanuel Mbola, Nathan Sinkala
Morocco: Lamyaghri, Benatia, El Adoua, Chakir, El Kaoutari, Hermach, El Agmadi, belhanda, Amrabat, Assaidi, Al Arabi