Morocco/Togo: Atlas Lions Achieve Convincing Afcon Victory

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Morocco served notice of their potential at the 2017 African Nations Cup finals with a convincing 3-1 victory over Togo in their second Group C match in Oyem on Friday, moving the North African side into second place in their pool.

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Herve Renard’s Atlas Lions dominated the match but fell behind to a fifth-minute goal from Mathieu Dossevi as he netted at the end of a mazy run.

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Aziz Bouhaddouz justified his late call-up to the squad by bringing Morocco level nine minutes later. Romain Saiss put Morocco ahead before halftime and a long-range shot from Youssef En-Nesyri in the 72nd completed the win.

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The failed to take a number of chances to increase their advantage, but nevertheless won the biggest victory of the tournament so far.

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Morocco are now second in the pool with three points, one behind leaders DR Congo and one ahead of holders Cote d’Ivoire, who have drawn their two opening games. Togo have one point.

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Morocco meet the Ivorians in their final game on Tuesday, putting Renard up against the team he took to the title two years ago in Equatorial Guinea. A draw would be good enough to see Morocco through to the quarterfinals at the expense of the Elephants.

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The coach was understandably delighted with the result, but says the performance was not quite as good as their opening 1-0  game against the Congolese, the difference in this game being that they took their chances.

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“Honestly, the first game was much better but sometimes in the African Nations Cup, you have to get the possession and be strong in the tackle. That we were able to do,” he said.

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Much was made prior to the game of Renard’s relationship with Togo coach Claude Le Roy, who served as a mentor to him for many years. But the latter played down any talk of student versus master.

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“I think there are no teachers or students, there is just a man, Claude Le Roy, who has exceptional experience in Africa,” Renard said. “Transforming this Togo team like that in a few months, this is exceptional. He has something different.

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“I’ve always had an admiration for him, but we did our job as best we can.”

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Togo can still reach the quarterfinals with a victory over DR Congo in their final game and Le Roy has not given up hope.

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“To score an early goal altered the quality of the game,” he said. “It was a bit bunched after that, like we had something to protect. We know that in football if you go back 20-30 meters, the opponent will enjoy [the extra space to play]. That is an error on our part.”

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Le Roy was also fulsome in his praise for Renard.

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“Congratulations to Hervé. Teachers are always made to be surpassed and he has long since proved his qualities.”

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