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The 2012 Afcon takes place from Jan. 21 to Feb. 12 and will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Some teams will be experiencing their first participation at the competition, while others will be aiming to write their names in the record books as Africa's best when the final takes place at the Stade d'Angondje in Libreville on Feb. 12.
Goal.com introduces you to the 16 teams that will be taking part in this highly-anticipated competition. Here we profile Morocco.
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|HOW THEY QUALIFIED FOR AFCON 2012
GROUP D WINNER
Morocco had a bumpy start to 2012 Afcon qualifying with a goalless draw against eventual second-place finishers Central African Republic. The north Africans quickly recuperated with a victory against Tanzania and then suffered a second setback in Algeria before finding their stride and dominating the next three encounters to qualify top of their group.
|ERIC GERETS | Coach
|Contractual issues with his former employer, Al-Hilal, meant that Gerets could only join up with the Atlas Lions after the first qualifier was played. The Belgian instilled a sense of unity and purpose within the Moroccan squad that has been their main deficiency in years past.
|HOUSSINE KHARJA | Captain
Kharja is one of the remaining members of the old guard that survived Gerets’ rejuvenation of the Atlas Lions. At 29, he is one of the more experienced players in the Moroccan side, providing both tactical and mental support to the younger members in the team from his position in central midfield.
|MAROUANE CHAMAKH | Star Player
|While he may be going through a difficult period at Arsenal, Chamakh remains one of the most important pieces in the Atlas Lions puzzle thanks to his sense of positioning, aerial ability and ruthlessness in front of goal. This will be his fourth Afcon and the north Africans will be looking to him for goals.
|OUSSAMA ASSAIDI | Young Talent
|The obvious choice would have been QPR’s Adel Taarabt but Assaidi is the player who has surprised onlookers the most with his performances. He burst onto the scene in the 4-0 qualifying thumping of Algeria, a game in which he replaced Taarabt on the wing, and has become a mainstay in the starting lineup ever since. A gifted dribbler and distributor, Assaidi will cause many defenders problems in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
|PROBABLE STARTING XI
|In terms of raw talent, the Moroccan side is probably one of the most gifted on the continent and its embarrassment of riches is most evident in midfield and attack. Lamyaghri has been excellent in goal, Benatia is a rock in central defense, while Belhanda and Kharja provide additional cover. The front four are as menacing as you’ll find in all of Africa.
Basser, Kaouatri, Benatia, Kaddouri
Taarabt, Boussoufa, Assaidi
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