Journalism in the service of society

‘We know how they play’: Morocco coach, star boast ahead of WAFCON semi-final vs Nigeria

Morocco head coach Reynald Pedros and defender Nesryn El Chad are confident their team can cope with Nigeria’s vast experience in tonight’s 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.

The Atlas Lionesses, who are looking to reach their first-ever final, are up against the nine-time champions in the second semi-final of the competition at the Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, kicking off at 9pm.

It is also Morocco’s first semi-final in just their third time of participating in the tournament, but Pedros insists that his side will not be intimidated by the Super Falcons’ impressive pedigree.

“We are preparing this match like all the others, with a lot of seriousness and application,” he said during his pre-match press conference in Rabat.

“The main thing was to recover well after the quarter-final, recharge the batteries and not to put negative pressure on the players.

“Nigeria is the best team in Africa, that regularly participates in the World Cup. It is the country that has the most WAFCON titles. We know who we are dealing with. But in a one-off match, in a semi-final, anything is possible.

“It’s up to us to put all the ingredients together to win this match and reach the final. We know it will be difficult, but we are ready for it. We don’t go into the unknown, we know how Nigeria plays. It will be up to us to show that we are able to compete and qualify for the final.”

Hosts Morocco have been inspired by their vociferous fans to four victories out of four in the competition as they secured a ticket to their maiden Women’s World Cup.

Defender El Chad is confident they can get past the Super Falcons, who lost their opening match to South Africa.

“The atmosphere has not changed at all since the beginning of the tournament, it is always the same,” she said.

“We are a family and we are very happy to be together. And what could be better than playing a WAFCON with your family?

‘Yes, there was a lot of euphoria after qualifying for the World Cup, but the most important thing now is the semi-final. We always work with a lot of seriousness and in a good mood.”

She however admits that it will be crucial to be defensively solid against a potent Nigeria side who have scored eight goals in the tournament so far.

“We will have to be rigorous and solid defensively if we want to qualify for the final, no matter who the opponent is in front of us,” El Chad added.

“We must remain strong and organised at the back. We are ready on all levels, physically, technically and tactically.”

The defender joked that the Moroccans believed the Super Falcons were able to build their formidable reputation “because we were not yet in the competition,” adding that they would do everything they could to reach the final.

The two teams have only met twice before and both times (in the 1998 and 2000 WAFCON group stages) the Super Falcons thrashed Morocco (8-0 and 6-0).

Comments are closed.

Naija Times