DURBAN, South Africa Coach Rachid Taoussi was in tears after Morocco were ousted from the African Nations Cup and he proudly proclaimed his young side were capable of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Morocco were knocked out after being held to a 2-2 draw by host nation South Africa in their final Group A match on Sunday.
"We depart with our heads high and our dignity intact," a tearful Taoussi told reporters in the wake of a third successive draw for his side. "I'm very happy with my team and with the improvement we've made over the last weeks.
"I only took the job in October and I've only had around 20 days on the training pitch with the players but you can see how much better we are than one year ago.
"Now we look ahead to the World Cup qualifiers. This tournament has been a step up for our young side but we have the capacity now to go on and qualify for Brazil."
Taoussi's team have two points from two games in World Cup Group C, with Ivory Coast on four, Tanzania on three and Gambia on one.
Morocco were also knocked out early at the previous Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in 2012 after being tipped as one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Their latest failure continues a turbulent 12 months during which they started their World Cup campaign with two disappointing draws and Taoussi's predecessor Eric Gerets was sacked.
"For me our performances here have been positive," said the coach. "This is a side with an average age of 24 - it can only get better."
Morocco will host the next Nations Cup in 2015.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)
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