Afcon 2019: Morocco coach Herve Renard praises resilient Namibia

Herve Renard Morocco
The two-time Afcon winning coach will face his former side, Ivory Coast, following their victory over Namibia in scorching temperatures
Morocco head coach Herve Renard lauded the opposition following their hard-fought victory over Namibia on Sunday afternoon.

The Atlas Lions opened their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group D campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over the Brave Warriors at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.

It took an own goal by Itamunua Keimunine to hand Morocco a late winning goal in the 89th minute, after the Namibian substitute attempted to clear away Hakim Ziyech's free-kick.

"I salute Namibia coach on his team’s performance," Renard told the media.

"We faced an expected challenge and it was tough to keep the rhythm because of the hot atmosphere that will cause trouble to all teams."

The Atlas Lions, who are widely considered to be one of the tournament favourites, will now take on the 2015 Afcon winners Ivory Coast at the Al Salam Stadium on Friday.

"First game is always tough and what happened today proves this. We face Cote d’Ivoire next and we have to get ready for that important match," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Namibia head coach Ricardo Mannetti was proud of his charges, who frustrated a star-studded Morocco side on the day.

"We play in the group of death and we are the underdogs, but I am proud of what we have done today," Mannetti told the media.

The Namibian tactician felt that the Brave Warriors deserved at least a draw as the 2015 Cosafa Cup champions marked their return to the Afcon finals after an 11-year absence.

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"Most of my players play in the domestic league. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get at least a point because we deserved a draw," the retired midfielder said.

"We will an important role in determining the fate of this group. Morocco is a very strong team and they are favourites for the title."

Namibia will now take on Southern African rivals South Africa in their second Group D match, which will also be played at the Al Salam Stadium on Friday.