Football fever is gripping Morocco ahead of the clash with South Africa on Sunday. The Atlas Lions will need all three points in order to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals while Bafana Bafana seek at least a single point in order to progress.According to the SA Football Association, tickets for the match are sold out.President Kirsten Nematandani, speaking in Johannesburg has urged those with tickets to the match to turn out in their numbers at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
"Those with tickets, please don't stay at home, we want to see the stadium full," he said.
For those in Morocco, the cafes around the country will be packed with supporters.
|Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium|
South Africa enter into their final Group A clash against Morocco brimming with their confidence after their inspired performance against Angola, which has left them top of Group A with four points. The hosts will have to deal with a few injury concerns before the match, as striker Lehlohonolo Majoro will not be fit for the tie after being helped off the pitch on Wednesday.
Tokelo Rantie has a question mark placed on his head as he picked up a knock in training, while injured pair Kagisho Dikgacoi and Lerato Chabangu were seen doing light training in Durban on Thursday. This would mean South Africa go into the game with only two recognised strikers in their squad, with Katlego Mphela and Bernard Parker leading the line of attack.
Gordon Igesund is wary of Morocco before the tie and is encouraging his players to focus on the present and the match ahead.
"We know what we need to do on Sunday. We can't continue living in the past. We must start celebrating once we qualify for the quarter-finals," he told reporters.
"We won our second game, but we really can't get carried away with that. One win is not going to qualify us. We know what have to do next. We have a tough match against a strong Morocco side and we need to win that one.”
The hosts will target a victory against the side deemed to be the strongest in the group, but Morocco have failed to light up the tournament with draws against Angola and Cape Verde and may fear the renewed vigour and confidence displayed by Bafana Bafana in their win over the Palanacas Negras.
Rachid Taoussi will need to make some changes in order to help his side unleash their attacking potential with players such as Assaidi and El Hamadaoui yet to fire.
Taoussi may be regretting leaving Adel Taabart and Maraoune Chamkah out of his squad, as the side has looked rather toothless in attack, with only a single goal being scored in the tournament by El Arabi, which was the priceless equaliser against Cape Verde.
However the team will want to prove that they can do well without the likes of Taarabt, by beating a host nation which looked unstoppable against Angola.
Many South Africans feared the tie against Morocco, but it seems the tables have turned as suddenly the Atlas Lions could be deemed as the underdogs on Sunday night.
Khune,Masilela, Khumalo, Sangweni, Ngcongca, Phala, Furman, Mahlangu, Tshabalala Mphela, Parker
Lamyaghri, Chakir, Bergdich, Benatia, El Adoua Abdel, El Ahmadi, Belhanda Assaidi, El Hamdaoui, Amrabat
Thabo Mngomeni scored in Bafana's 3-1 win over Morocco in the 2002 Nations Cup
South Africa and Morocco have played on three occasions with Bafana Bafana holding a slight advantage over their opponents with two wins and a draw the final results.
The last time the two sides met was in 2004 in Tunisia and the final score was a 1-1 draw.
Morocco has not qualified for the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations since 2004, when Badou Zaki was coach of the side.
South Africa’s two goals against Angola were their first goals of 2013.
South Africa has not reached the knock-out round of the Africa Cup of Nations since 2002.