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Preview: Morocco vs. Ghana - prediction, team news, lineups
10/01/2022 11:34:16

It is a clash of two African heavyweights in Group C of the Africa Cup of Nations as Morocco square off against Ghana at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo on Monday.


The Black Stars will be seeking their fifth title, while the Atlas Lions will be looking to end their 45-year wait for the continental crown following their 1976 triumph.


We say: Morocco 3-1 Ghana


Despite their Arab Cup defeat against Algeria last time out, Morocco head into the tournament as one of the most in-form sides and favourites to go all the way. While we expect Ghana to put up a fight, we are tipping the Atlas Lions to come away with all three points as they boast a significantly superior squad.


Match preview


Morocco enjoyed a sensational qualifying journey where they finished at the summit of Group E to secure smooth entry into the group stages of the tournament.


The Atlas Lions were one of eight sides to go unbeaten in the qualifiers, winning four and drawing two to amass 14 points, five points ahead of runners-up Mauritania.


Morocco head into Monday's game on the back of a quarter-final exit from the Arab Cup as they were beaten on penalties by eventual winners Algeria following a 2-2 draw after extra time.


Prior to that, Vahid Halilhodzic's men tasted competitive defeat in July 2019, when they were beaten by Benin on penalties in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations — a run of 22 games in which they won 19 and draw three.


Morocco will now look to make up for their Arab Cup woes and secure the continental crown, and three points against fellow group favourites Ghana will be a dream start for the one-time African champion.


Ghana, on the other hand, head into Cameroon as the third-most successful nation at the tournament, claiming the Africa Cup of Nations title on four different occasions.


However, the Black Stars last conquered the continent four decades ago, when they saw off host nation Libya on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time back in 1982.


While they have made it to three different finals since then, they have fallen short on each occasion, with their most recent shortcoming being in 2015, when they lost on penalties at the hands of Ivory Coast.


Ghana secured their place in this year's edition of the tournament following an impressive qualifying run where they won four, drew one and lost one to collect 13 points from six games and finish top of Group C.


Milovan Rajevac's side head into Monday's game fresh off the back of a 3-0 defeat against reigning African champions Algeria when the sides met in Qatar in a pre-AFCON warm-up friendly.


Team News


Halilhodzic has named a star-studded 25-man squad for their Africa Cup of Nations campaign including Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Romain Saiss, Achraf Hakimi, the Sevilla trio of Yassine Bounou, Munir El Haddadi and Youssef En-Nesyri.


Twenty-year-old Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, who has enjoyed an impressive debut season with Spanish giants Barcelona, has also been handed his first senior call-up by the Bosnian manager.


However, notable absentees from the Morocco camp include Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech, who has been out of the team since June 2021, and Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui, who misses out through injury.


Ghana, on the other hand, have called up 30 players for the continental tournament, including the Premier League trio of Thomas Partey, Daniel Amartey and Jordan Ayew.


The Crystal Palace forward is currently 10th on the Black Stars' all-time appearance list with 73 appearances to his name and is in line to equal Kwadwo Asamoah's record of 74.


Rajevac has also handed debut call-ups to a few home-based players, including David Abagna and Maxwell Abbey Quaye, who enjoyed an impressive campaign in the Ghanaian top flight.


Morocco possible starting lineup:

Bounou; Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Tissoudali; Amrabat, Fajr, Barkok; Munir, Boufal, En-Nesyri


Ghana possible starting lineup:

Atta; Djiku, Armatey, Rahman, Mensah; Partey, Wakaso; Paintsil, Suleymana, Kudus; J Ayew

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