Angola - Morocco Preview: Palancas Negras aim to make history during their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations opener
Angola face a potent Moroccan side on Saturday night following the opening match of the tournament, with the Angolans searching for their first win against the Atlas Lions
By Daniel Eslick
Amaro, Massunguna, Zuela, Miguel
Djelma, Kivuvu, Dede, Gilberto
Belakhdar, Benatia, El Adoua, Bergdich
EL Ahmadi, Hermach
Barrada, Belhanda, Assaidi
Angola have had a strong build-up to the tournament with wins over defending champions Zambia, Botswana and Rwanda. The Palancas Negras welcomed back their talisman striker Manucho during their 2-0 win over Botswana, as well as experienced midfielder Djalma Campos.
The Angolans have been tough to break down in the final third throughout their preparations, which will be a vital aspect of their performance against the talented attacking force which Morocco possesses.
There are doubts surrounding the fitness of first-choice keeper Lama, who picked up a knock against the Zebras. However, the rest of the Angolan squad are rearing to go against the Atlas Lions, in a bid to create history by securing their first win over the North Africans.
The Moroccan coach Rachid Taoussi raised eyebrows with his decision to leave out experienced stars for the tournament in the form of Marouane Chamakh, Houssine Kharja and Adel Taarabt. But the coach has cited team performance over individual ability as his reason behind rejecting the services of his star players.
The Morrocans have lost the services of MAT Tetouan's Mehdi Namli, who broke his leg during a friendly match against local South African side Bidvest Wits. Despite concerns over the fitness of Younes Belhanda, the Montpellier midfielder will be able to play in the match on Saturday night.
The Atlas Lions will kick-off the tournament with the knowledge that they have never been defeated by Angola and that they are considered as one of the favourites to top group A and secure a quarter-final berth.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Morocco did not qualify from the first round of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, despite their tag as favourites.
- The odds are stacked against Angola, as in the last five meetings between the sides, Palancas Negras have lost four with one 2-2 draw their only consolation.
- Angola's Manucho is their top scorer in the 23-man squad, after netting 21 times in 38 appearances for his country.
- Moroccan coach Rachid Taoussi has come under heavy critiscm from the Moroccan media following his decision to drop some of his star players from the final 23-man squad.
- Angola's best result in Africa's football showpiece was a quarter-final berth during the 2008 and 2010 editions of the tournament.
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Top 3 Predictions
Angola 0-2 Morocco
- 16.41 %
Angola 1-2 Morocco
- 16.15 %
Angola 1-3 Morocco
- 8.72 %
|Africa Cup of Nations (ACN)||Jan 19, 2013||Angola 0 - Morocco 0|
|Sep 7, 2013||Angola 4 - Liberia 1||WCQ|
|Jul 18, 2013||Angola 0 - Mozambique 1||CSC|
|Jul 16, 2013||Malawi 2 - Angola 3||CSC|
|Jul 14, 2013||Angola 1 - Lesotho 1||CSC|
|Jun 15, 2013||Uganda 2 - Angola 1||WCQ|
|-||Abdelhamid El Kaoutari||Defender|
|-||Issam El Adoua|
|-||Karim El Ahmadi|
|-||Mounir El Hamdaoui|
|-||Youssef El Arabi|
Djalma Campos has the ability to control proceedings from the middle of the park, which will be essential against the Moroccans who strength resides in their creative midfield players.
Assaidi possesses pace and can burst through defences at will. He will wanting to prove a point during the Africa Cup of Nations and the opening game will be a perfect venue for the winger to show off his talent.
The Atlas Lions will be too potent in the final third for Angola and should be able to continue their hoodoo over the side they have beaten four times in five meetings.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed