Morocco will open their CAF African Nations Championship account on Sunday afternoon at Athlone Stadium when they take on Zimbabwe, kick-off at 17h00 (CAT).
Morocco’s long voyage from the top of Africa down to the southern most point has seen them and Zimbabwe paired in Group B alongside Uganda and Burkina Faso.
The Atlas Lions shocked the African footballing fraternity when they dispatched defending champions Tunisia to qualify for the final 16 of the Chan tournament.
Abdesamad El Mobarky scored the only goal in the two-legged affair to ensure they would participate in their second successive tournament on South African soil, after having featured in the 2013 African Cup of Nations.
A new face is on the Moroccan bench, however, after Hassan Benabicha took charge from Rachid Taoussi over the Christmas break. And he has brought over a squad filled with Raja Casablanca players.
Eight men from the Raja squad, which finished second to Bayern Munich at the 2013 Fifa Club World Cup, have made the trip to their base camp in the Mother City hungry to taste further success.
It will be a tall ask for Benabicha to taste success with not even a month training with the squad, but qualifying for the final eight of the tournament will be deemed impressive under the circumstances.
Meanwhile, Ian Gorowa’s side has been hard at work in Cape Town and they were one of the first teams to touch down in the country.
Having coached in Cape Town before, the Zimbabwe coach has an advantage of what to expect when it comes to the weather patterns and the flight of the ball.
Despite having to make do without the likes of Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat and Kingston Nkhatha, there is still some quality that has come through the local ranks and, as a result, they are considered to be one of the favorites for the tournament.