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Football | Afcon

Nordin Amrabat © Backpagepix

Moroccans optimistic ahead of Bafana tie



Morocco forward Nordin Amrabat is adamant all is not lost for his side, despite their stuttering start to the Africa Cup of Nations, and says there is plenty of belief they can still qualify for the next round.

The Atlas Lions face hosts South Africa in their final Group A match in Durban on Sunday in what is a must-win game if they want to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in four attempts.

The 1976 champions kicked off their campaign with a goalless draw against Angola and followed that up with an unconvincing 1-1 result against debutants Cape Verde Islands.

In that game, it took a late Youssef El Arabi strike to salvage a point, leaving them hovering in third place in their pool and with the same number of points as the Cape Verdeans.

“It's a straightforward situation,” Amrabat said.

“If we win the game against South Africa then we are in the next round. We will also be No 1 in the pool.

"It is a final and we have everything in our hands. It's our job to take the three points and go to the next round.”

The Galatasaray player, who can also play on the wing, insisted that suggestions they underestimated minnows Cape Verde were false, saying their lack of aggression and some inefficient officiating by Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe were partly to blame for the result.

“We had seen the videos, we had analysed their good points and their weaknesses, but we didn't start aggressive or really concentrate," he said.

“I also don't like to talk bad about the referees but this referee, he thought we were playing indoor football or something."

“He blew the whistle for every touch and that was too much, but at the end of the day we have two points and everything is in our hands.”

Rachid Taoussi's team have taken plenty of flack back home for their sluggish start to the finals and Amrabat conceded it was their “last chance” to win back some faith from their fans.

“We must show them what we have got,” he said.

He did not believe that playing in front of a capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium crowd, which played a key role in lifting the home side past Angola earlier in the week, would be daunting.

“We have experienced players and to play in front of 50 000 or 60 000 people is not new to us,” Amrabat said.

“The South African fans are good people, they are not negative and they will do everything to support their team.

“We know we will be playing in a good atmosphere, but we'll be playing only to win.”

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