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Morocco will make their first appearance in the African Nations Championships in 2014, having missed out of the previous editions in 2009 and 2011.
The Atlas Lions edged Tunisia 1-0 on aggregate to qualify for the main tournament which will be held in South Africa.
The team is coached by former Morocco and Union Sidi Kacem midfielder Rachid Taoussi.
The 54-year-old called up a strong squad for their only qualifier against Tunisia including the likes of Lamyaghri Nadir, Fatah Said, Batna Mourad, and Hafidi Adbelilah.
Hassan Benabichas debut on the bench for Morocco was almost the dream start he had hoped for as the Atlas Lions were just minutes away from a semi-final spot in the CAF African Nations Championship.
Arriving into the CHAN competition as the team who had disposed of the defending champions, Tunisia, Morocco were considered to be the underdogs right up until Rachid Taoussi was sacked as coach.
Benabicha was hired on Boxing Day in 2013, just 17 days before the start of the tournament in South Africa, and he made his intentions clear from the off - qualification to the second round was the primary target.
That they did, albeit not in the most convincing of fashions but at the same time in style, as they finished second in Group B with draws to Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso before ousting Uganda 3-1.
Emphasis on the Lions play was on their pace and their ability to counter-attack with ease on the transitions, and they so often caught many teams off the pace.
Nigeria fell victim to it in the opening 45 minutes of the quarter-final clash in Cape Town Stadium, going down 3-0 at the break. And just like the fears over Moroccos complacency coming into the tournament were raised, Benabichas side fell victim to their own smugness.
Nigeria fought back with three goals of their own and the game was sent into extra time on a steamy hot day in the Mother City.
Little wouldve stopped Stephen Keshis jubilant side, who were already hearing comparisons of Liverpools UEFA Champions League comeback against AC Milan in the 2005 final echoing around the stadium. But an Aliyu Ibrahim goal inside additional was enough to sentence the North Africans to crash out of the tournament.
All round, there was plenty of promising moments for the Moroccans who will now look forward to hosting the 2015 African Cup of Nations next January.
|Cameroon||vs||Morocco||09 Jun 17|
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