June 18, 2019 / 2:03 AM / 4 months ago

FACTBOX-Soccer-Profile on Morocco team for 2019 African Cup of Nations

June 18 (Reuters) - Factbox on African Cup of Nations qualifiers Morocco:

African Cup of Nations record:

Previous appearances in finals: (16) 1972, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2017.

Best performance: Winners 1976

Drawn in Group D with the Ivory Coast, Namibia and South Africa.

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Coach: Herve Renard

The 50-year-old Frenchman has won two of the last four Nations Cup titles and seeks an unprecedented third with three different countries.

He returned for a second spell as Zambia coach and took them to a surprise title in 2012 and was at the helm of the winners again in 2015, this time with Ivory Coast whose captain Yaya Toure praised him for his leadership ability.

Renard’s Morocco reached the quarter-finals at the 2017 Cup of Nations and he took them to last year’s World Cup in Russia, where they left a favourable impression despite exiting in the first round.

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Key player: Hakim Ziyech. Age: 26. Midfielder.

The Dutch-born Ziyech fell out with Renard ahead of the last Cup of Nations finals and was left out of the squad before being brought back a few months later after a rapprochement between coach and player.

Ziyech has since become the creative force for Morocco as they qualified for the World Cup and a second successive Cup of Nations finals appearance.

He comes into the tournament on the back of helping Ajax Amsterdam to the league and cup double in the Netherlands plus an unexpected run to the semi-final of the Champions League.

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FIFA world ranking June 2019: 47

How they qualified: Top placed team in Group B, ahead of Cameroon, Malawi and the Comoros Islands.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Malaga, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Girona, Spain), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)

Defenders: Yunis Abdelhamid (Stade Reims), Medhi Benatia (Al Duhail), Manuel da Costa (Al Ittihad), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund), Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax Amsterdam), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Midfielders: Youssef Ait Bennasser (St Etienne), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Mehdi Bourabia (Sassuolo), Mbark Boussoufa (Al Shabab), Karim El Ahmadi (Al Ittihad), Faycal Fajr (Caen), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam)

Forwards: Nordin Amrabat (Al Nasr), Sofiane Boufal (Celta Vigo), Khalid Boutaib (Zamalek, Egypt), Youssef En-Nesyri (Leganes), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Al Nasr), Oussama Idrissi (AZ Alkmaar). (Compiled by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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