22 January 2013

Morocco/Cape Verde: Atlas Lions Look Set to Beat Battling Islanders

Photo: CAF
Morocco's Atlas Lions in action against Mozambique (file photo).

Morocco will seek a vastly-improved display when they take on Cape Verde in their second 2013 Group A clash at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday.

The north Africans looked lacklustre in their opening 0-0 draw with Angola at the weekend and can count themselves a little fortunate to have come away with a point.

They appeared to battle with the altitude late in the game and will be relieved to play this encounter, and their final pool match against South Africa, at sea level.

Coach Rachid Taoussi is defensive of his players, saying after the draw with Angola that he has no complaints about their performance.

"This is a team under construction, young and with an average age of 24," Taoussi said. "There have only been three months since I was appointed and I am satisfied with the performance of the team in both defence and attack; we just need to be more efficient."

His excuses will curry little favour with Moroccan fans, many of whom have questioned the coach's decision to leave out a number of experienced stars from the team.

Defeat against Cape Verde will make qualification for quarter-finals very difficult, although their poor opener aside, the Atlas Lions look on paper to have too much quality for the islanders.

Cape Verde confirmed their status as that of "battlers" when they drew 0-0 with South Africa in their first Group A game.

Theirs is a well-organised and hard-working side, but one that lacks any real star quality. Coach Lucio Antunes has worked out the limitations of his team very well and plays accordingly.

They are difficult to break down and close the spaces well, showing little attacking ambition, instead preferring to sit back waiting to hit teams on the counter-attack. Expect much of the same against Morocco.

Their tactics rely on perfect execution and a large slice of luck, but the Cape Verdians have also been very realistic about their ambitions at this tournament. They are delighted to be taking part in their maiden tournament and would accept an honourable first-round exit.

There would be nothing honourable about failure at this stage for the Moroccans.

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