Morocco boss Regragui makes bold Super Eagles claim ahead of AFCON 2023

Morocco boss Regragui makes bold Super Eagles claim ahead of AFCON 2023
Credit: Icon Sport

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has disclosed that the Super Eagles of Nigeria are better than the Atlas Lions ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d'Ivoire next year. 

The coach, who led the Atlas Lions to the semifinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, has made a wild claim while trying to react to the draw.

The draw was done on Thursday, October 12 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Morocco are in Group F alongside DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania. 

Regragui hails Super Eagles ahead of 2023 AFCON

“We were aware that this edition of the CAN would be the toughest. No team is affordable and no group is easy,” commented Regragui in a video broadcast by the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF). 

“We are also facing two teams who are part of our qualifying group for the 2026 World Cup (Zambia and Tanzania). 

“We are continuing the preparations. The most important thing is that we are entering the competition now since we know who we are up against. When you take part in such a competition, you must be ready for anything.

“We respect all the teams. It’s a balanced group that won’t be easy. We will do what we have to do to go far. Everyone dreams of winning, including us. 

“We will approach this competition with respect. We know the African continent and above all we know football.

“We have a good group with players who want to win a national team title. But I say it again, it will not be easy,” continued the former defender who made 45 appearances for Morocco during his playing days.

Regragui also spoke about his side's preparation for the tournament and the desire to go far.

The tactician, whose side reached the highest finish by any African side at the World Cup, claimed his side are no longer favourites going into the event in Côte d'Ivoire. 

“We will prepare well. What matters is that we have the experience, whether it's me or the staff. We played in Africa, we competed in these competitions,” he concluded

“We were also assistants to Rachid Taoussi in South Africa (in 2013). We know that this competition is decided on details and on the state of mind.

“For the next CAN, we are no longer the favorites and there are teams who are better than us like Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. I am much more wary of teams in hat 2 like Algeria, Nigeria and Ivory Coast who will be at home.”

Analysis of Walid Regragui's comments 

His claim that the Super Eagles is better than the Atlas Lions is largely untrue. Similarly, Algeria, who won the tournament in 2019, were in Pot 1 and not pot 2.

Meanwhile, using the last World Cup as an example, the Super Eagles were not present, while Morocco made it to the semifinals of the competition. 

On the other hand, Morocco are currently the highest-ranked side on the continent on the FIFA Rankings while Nigeria occupy the sixth position. 

Although the Atlas Lions have a solitary AFCON title (1976), the Super Eagles have underperformed recently but will always be considered among the favourites going to the continental showpiece because of their three AFCON titles and eight third-place finishes.

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

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