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Morocco head coach Herve Renard pokes Argentina ahead of friendly match

14:05 WAT 01/03/2019
Herve Renard Lille Ligue 1
The Atlas Lions host Argentina in an international friendly match later this month as they prepare for the 2019 Afcon finals

Morocco coach Herve Renard says his side can wage a bitter struggle against Argentina whom they clash with in an international friendly on March 26 in Tangier.

With Morocco having already qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals to be hosted by Egypt in June, they are already preparing for the tournament.

Three days before they play Argentina, Morocco take on Malawi away in Blantyre in a dead-rubber final Afcon qualifier.

While marveling at the strength of the Argentina squad and branding Lionel Messi an “alien,” Renard said his side can be competitive against the South Americans.

“We're going to have to do the same things as we did against Portugal and Spain at the 2018 World Cup. If we're at our level, we can compete,” Renard told Cafonline.

“While knowing that they have an alien named Lionel Messi who makes everything change. It's an exceptional match in a career and for Morocco. I'm sure the players will all be motivated.”

After failing to get past the group stages at the 2018 Fifa World Cup, Morocco have now shifted focus on the Afcon title. The Atlas Lions were last crowned African champions in 1976, their only triumph at the tournament.

But Renard is refusing to talk about Morocco’s title prospects at Egypt 2019 while saying Egypt, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and defending champions Cameroon are the favourites.

“By showing humility, it's very difficult to win Afcon and I know what I'm talking about. Statistically, football lovers know that Egypt is a great country. Especially when you can count on Mohamed Sala. And even more so at home with strong popular support. It will be very difficult for all their opponents,” Renard said.

“Which team today has individual qualities like Sadio Mané or (Kalidou) Koulibaly for Senegal? Let us not forget also the Ivory Coast of Nicolas Pépé and Serge Aurier, the defending champions of Cameroon or Nigeria. I'd rather not be a braggart for Morocco but make the opponents fall on the field.”

The Frenchman also revealed that they plan to set camp in Rabat in preparation for Afcon before they jet out for Egypt.