Afcon 2017:Renard plays down Morocco’s title hopes after win

Morocco coach Herve Renard says there are better teams than his in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

Renard guided his team to the last eight with a 1-0 win over Ivory Coast, who he led to the 2015 title.

He said: “I was very lucky to work with Ivory Coast and we share the same spirit. But now I have to continue and try to take Morocco far.

“We are not favourites to win the tournament, there are better teams than us. But we are still in it.”

The Frenchman can achieve an unprecedented third title with a third different nation, having also lifted the trophy with Zambia in 2012.

But he was cautious after Tuesday’s win over the Ivorians and suggested the shocking pitch at Oyem was a contributing factor to their success.

“I feel very good and give congratulations to the players. They did very well tactically, they didn’t do very well technically – but the pitch is very difficult.

“Today we beat the Ivory Coast on a bad pitch that proved to be a leveller.

“But at the end when you win the game 1-0 against the African champions you are very happy. ”

He also revealed that he gave his team a harsh reality check at the interval, even though they appeared comfortable in holding the Ivorians to 0-0 – a scoreline that would have put the Atlas Lions through.

“I told my team during half-time that if we continued to play as we were then we would go out, it was not good enough in the first half,” he said.

“We were scared of facing the Ivory Coast and when you are scared of your opponents you cannot achieve anything.”

Morocco remained defensively resolute after the break but also carried more of a threat going forward and in the 64th minute, substitute Rachid Alioui struck a spectacular winner from long range.

Assistant coach Mustapha Hadji revealed the Morocco bench “had a feeling” Alioui could have a decisive influence.

“It was a great goal,” he said. “Football can be magic, sometimes you have a feeling and you don’t know why, but it worked for us and it was great.”

Morocco will find out who they will face in the quarter-finals when Group D reaches its conclusion on Wednesday.

Whether they come up against Ghana, Egypt or Mali, Renard wants his players to be prepared.

“Now a new competition begins with the knockout matches, and we will need a winning mentality,” he said.

By Agencies

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