Two matches on the menu from the Africa Cup of Nations today, after which we’ll have seen all 24 teams in action, with Morocco the headline act from Group F.
Africa Cup of Nations acca of the day
Morocco vs Tanzania
After becoming the first-ever African team to reach a World Cup semi-final in 2022, Morocco have their sights set on AFCON glory.
Surprisingly, the Atlas Lions have only ever won this competition once in their entire history, this coming all the way back in 1976, reaching just one final subsequently, beaten by fierce rivals Tunisia two decades ago.
Despite this, Walid Regragui’s team are the pre-tournament favourites to win AFCON this year, following their exploits at the World Cup where they beat Belgium, Canada, Spain and Portugal, before falling to France.
The challenge for Morocco will be the fact that, in Qatar, all four matches in which they had less possession, they won, but scored just one goal in three matches in which they had more of the ball, drawing one and losing the subsequent two.
Particularly in this group, the Atlas Lions will be tasked with breaking down a low defensive block, so will their quality attacking players, namely Hakim Ziyech, Abde, Youssef En-Nesyri and others, fire them to victory?
Well, this seems the most-likely outcome at Stade Laurent Pokou, given Tanzania’s AFCON pedigree.
The Taifa Stars are set to make just their third appearance at this tournament, debuting in 1980 before waiting almost four decades to repeat this feat.
They are yet to win a game at the Africa Cup of Nations, losing all three in 2019, with no one giving Adel Amrouche’s team a prayer of changing that fact in this opener.
Morocco beat Tanzania 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Dar es Salaam as recently as November, Hakim Ziyech breaking the deadlock at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium that night, with a similar scoreline expected in San-Pédro.
DR Congo vs Zambia
The day’s evening fixture from Group F is much tougher to call, with this game likely to go along way to determining who will join Morocco in the round of 16.
DR Congo are back at the Africa Cup of Nations, after catastrophically missing out on the 2022 edition, with Sébastien Desabre’s side managing not to mess up qualifying this time round.
Les Léopards do have plenty of high-quality players in their squad, including Chancel Mbemba, Arthur Masuaku, Cédric Bakambu and Yoane Wissa.
However, DR Congo rarely get it all together and produce good results on the field, so will they be able to live up to expectations this time?
Zambia meantime, famously, won the Africa Cup of Nations 11 years ago, an achievement on par with Greece’s triumph at Euro 2004 in terms of how surprising it was.
The Copper Bullets then went out in the group stage of the 2015 and 2017 editions, before failing to qualify for the 2019 and 2022 AFCONs all together.
Now led by Avram Grant, Zambia are back at the Africa Cup of Nations and, with their attack spearheaded by Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala, this team should be entertaining.
This clash at Stade Laurent Pokou is tough to call, but should guarantee goals.