26 January 2013

Morocco Out to Settle Score With South Africa in Nations Cup Showdown Sunday

Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi says his team will be hoping to settle an old score against hosts South Africa when the two meet in their decisive Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) encounter in Durban on Sunday.

Tickets for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) match between Bafana Bafana and Morocco on Sunday are sold out, the SA Football Association (Safa) said on Friday.

Bafana Bafana must avoid defeat to guarantee progress from Group A into the quarter-finals.

The Atlas Lions, on the other hand, have to win the Moses Mabhida Stadium clash if they want to remain in the tournament, although a draw may be enough depending on the outcome of the Angola-Cape Verde Islands match.

Eleven years ago the South Africans beat their North African opponents 3-1 at Segou in Mali, with the result dumping out the Moroccans, who at the time themselves needed just a point to book their way through to the last eight.

"We were in the same position in 2002 when we played them in Mali," Taoussi told a pre-match press conference on Saturday.

"I hope to get one over them here in South Africa."

The Morocco boss, who was his passionate self when he addressed the press in Durban, said that his team will try and take the game to South Africa.

"It's a match where there's going to be a winner and a loser," he said. "South Africa will go two ways -- they will play defence and attack.

"For us we will try and put the pressure on them and not let them put the pressure on us."

He was confident that even though his under-pressure side had performed poorly in their two games so far, they would emerge with the result that would put them into the next round.

"Football is not only about logic, there are times when things turn out differently from what they may appear," he explained.

"It's a feeling that you have. And when I slept last night, I had a good feeling that we can do it."

The 1976 champions began the competition with a dour goalless draw against Angola and followed that up with a sluggish performance against Cape Verde, when they needed a late Youssef El Arabi strike to salvage a 1-1 draw.

Taoussi admitted that their performance in that last match was not up to scratch and he was confident of a turnaround.

"After the last game, I spoke to the players immediately after at dinner and told them that everyone must blame himself for the mistakes we made.

"We will try to avoid those mistakes in the game with South Africa. We still have very high hopes that we can progress. Everyone knows it is a must-win game and we will go out there to win."

In anticipation of a big performance, Taoussi drew comparisons to their final qualifying game for the finals when they overturned a 2-0 first-leg loss to Mozambique by winning the second leg 4-0 to seal their berth in South Africa.

"We have prepared ourselves in a good way to play against South Africa and it will be the same as the one we played against Mozambique," he added.

Sport24 (Durban, South Africa, Jan. 26, 2013)

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