A successful tournament for Atlas Lions means reaching the final – Romain Saïss.
Countdown to AFCON 2023 Presented by Ed Emeanua
Moroccan defender Romain Saiss says the team has set high targets for the soon-starting TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.
The Atlas Lions were the first to arrive in Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday, 07 January. They landed in Abidjan before departing for San Pedro, where they will be based for their Group F pool, which consists of DR Congo, Zambia, and Tanzania.
Coming fresh from a historic semi-final finish at the FIFA World Cup, the Atlas Lions are raring to roar to a second TotalEnergies CAF AFCON title since last lifting the title in 1976.
Speaking exclusively to CAFOnline from San Pedro, Saiss, who plies his trade in the Saudi Pro League for Al-Shabab, says the team understands that all eyes will be on Morocco and is ready to make their nation proud.
“We have set high goals for ourselves. We want to have a big AFCON. We know everyone is waiting for us after our 2022 World Cup, and we are responsible for doing well. So we want to have a great competition for Morocco and make all the people who follow us proud,” said the defender.
“We arrived quite early to acclimatize to the weather here. We are preparing very well. We know that the competition starts soon, and we still have a few days to refine the details before the start,” concluded Saiss.
On the ideal finish, the hard-tackling defender emphasized that the plan is to be in Cote d’Ivoire for as long as possible and make it to the final.
“A successful AFCON for Morocco means going as far as possible, which means going to the end of the tournament. When we start a tournament, we are to go as far as possible, and the furthest possible is the final. Once this first objective is achieved, we will concentrate on the group matches, get through them, and then take it game by game. The goal is to stay in Cote d’Ivoire for a long time,” he concluded.
The Atlas Lions kick off the campaign on 17 January against Tanzania before facing DR Congo four days later. They then finish the group stages with an exciting clash against Zambia on 24 January.
Atlas Lions aims for a second continental crown
– Morocco will participate in their 19th TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations
-The Atlas Lions are looking for their second continental crown in the competition
-Morocco wants to stay at the top after reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup
The Moroccan national team aims to win its second continental title in history when participating in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.
The Atlas Lions are looking to stay at the top of international football after shining bright at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where they reached the semi-finals after beating several strong teams. They are hoping to get the trophy that has been elusive for the past 48 years.
Morocco’s TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Fixtures
Morocco-Tanzania: 17h00 GMT, Stade Laurent Pokou, San Pedro.
Morocco-Democratic Republic of Congo: 14h00 GMT, Stade Laurent Pokou, San Pedro.
Zambia-Morocco: 20h00 GMT, Stade Laurent Pokou, San Pedro
Road to Cote d’Ivoire
Morocco finished top of the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers group after collecting 9 points out of 12. In a group reduced to 3 with South Africa and Liberia after the withdrawal of Zimbabwe, the Atlas Lions won 3 matches and lost only once against South Africa.
The Moroccan attack scored eight goals in 4 matches, and its defense conceded three goals – a positive result that pushes the Atlas Lions of coach Walid Regragui to strive to keep the same form in Cote d’Ivoire.
Player to watch: Abdessamad Ezzalzouli
Striker Abdessamad Ezzalzouli is among the best young players in Morocco’s squad. The 22-year-old’s trickery and goal-scoring ability will significantly benefit the North African giants.
Ezzalzouli shone exceedingly for Morocco during the TotalEnergies CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations held in Morocco last year, where he captained the team to the title. He also finished as the competition’s top scorer with three goals.
The coach: Walid Regragui
Moroccan coach Walid Regragui inscribed his name in golden letters in the history of Moroccan, African, and world football after leading the Atlas Lions to the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the Moroccans played at a distinguished level throughout the competition.
The 48-year-old is considered one of the rising coaches at the continental and international levels because he knew how to shine with the clubs he coached. As with the Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca, with whom he won the CAF TotalEnergies Champions League double and the Moroccan champion title in 2022, Regragui is undoubtedly one of the best on the continent.
Morocco’s TotalEnergies CAF AFCON record
1972: First round
1978: First round
1980: Third place
1986: Fourth place
1988: Fourth place
1992: First round
2000: First round
2002: First round
2006: First round
2008: First round
2012: First round
2013: First round
2019: Round of 16