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Morocco coach dares players to win AFCON




Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco could be placed in the same group when the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) draw is made in the Ivory Coast on Thursday.

The six top seeds include Morocco, who created history at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar by becoming the first semi-finalists from Africa.


Nigeria are among the second seeds while South Africa have had to settle for a place among the third seeds for the draw in Abidjan, the Ivorian economic capital.

Add surprise 2021 Cup of Nations quarter-finalists Gambia from the fourth seeds and it would be a striking “group of death”, the term given to particularly tough sections.

Nigeria, three-time winners of the premier African football competition, and former champions South Africa were unlucky not to be seeded higher.

The Super Eagles lie sixth in the continental rankings and, ordinarily, would have been a top seed, avoiding Morocco, title-holders Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt in the group stage.

But host countries not only automatically qualify for the two-yearly tournament, they are also always among the first seeds.


To accommodate ninth-ranked Ivory Coast, sixth-placed Nigeria had to give way and now share second-seed status with Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Africa had been ranked above DR Congo for some time but, in the rankings that decided the seedings, they were placed one place below the Congolese.

It was an ironic change of positions as South Africa defeated DR Congo in a friendly match just a couple of days before the rankings were released.

The other third seeds are Cape Verde, Guinea, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania while the fourth seeds include Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Gambia and Tanzania.

Shock 2012 champions thanks to a penalty shootout victory over Didier Drogba-inspired Ivory Coast, Zambia are back at the Cup of Nations after three straight failures to qualify.


Zambia and Mozambique, whose last appearance was in 2010, are the only qualifiers who have not featured in at least one of the last two tournaments.

Despite a poor Cup of Nations record, Morocco are set to be installed as favourites to win the January 13-February 11 competition.

They have been champions just once in 33 editions – topping a 1976 group in Ethiopia in one of only two editions where a mini-league determined the champions.

In the last Cup of Nations, hosted by Cameroon in 2022, Morocco were eliminated by Egypt in the quarter-finals.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui, mastermind of the stunning World Cup campaign after taking charge just a few months earlier, says he will quit if his team fail to at least reach the semi-finals.


“We must be at least in the semi-finals of the CAN (Cup of Nations). If I do not go to the semi-finals, I will leave on my own,” he told the Moroccan media.

“I told my players that we cannot be kings of the world before being kings of our continent. Everyone wants to beat Morocco after our results in Qatar.

“This makes it more difficult for us to win, but it also motivates the players to improve and I welcome that.”

All six top seeds plus Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, DR Congo, South Africa and Zambia have won the Cup of Nations. The other champions – Ethiopia, Sudan and Congo Brazzaville – did not qualify.


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Shadab Khan provides an update on his injury




Pakistan all-rounder, Shadab Khan suffered an unexpected injury during National T20 Cup match between Rawalpindi and Sialkot in Karachi on Sunday.

The incident took place as Shadab was fielding during the match, having bowled two economical overs. The unfortunate mishap occurred when the ball unexpectedly rose above his foot, resulting in a sudden and painful ankle twist. 

The video footage of Shadab being carried off the field piggyback style by a teammate went viral on social media, raising concerns about the severity of the injury.



نیشنل T20 کرکٹر شادب خان انجری کا شکار شاداب کو کندھوں پر اٹھاکر ڈرینسنگ روم منتقل کیا گیا راولپنڈی کی کپتان سیالکوٹ کے خلاف میچ کھیلتے ہوئے پائوں کی انجری کا شکار ہوئے @76Shadabkhan @TheRealPCB #shadabkhan #IslamabadUnited

— KHIZAR AZAM (@KHIZARAZAM) December 3, 2023

In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, Shadab recounted the incident and explained the severity of the pain that left him incapacitated for a few minutes, making it difficult for him to comprehend the extent of the injury and eventually he had to seek assistance.

“When the ball came above my foot, I had an ankle twist. When the ankle twisted, I couldn’t even comprehend it for 2-3 minutes because the pain was severe. Then I tried to walk to the sidelines. The boundary on the side was a bit short, so I walked out there, but after that, I didn’t have the courage to continue walking. Then there was a guy there, so I thought of somehow making it to the dressing room,” Shadab said.

Fortunately, Shadab provided a glimmer of optimism when discussing his current status of his fitness.


“Now the fitness is improving. The injury is not too major. The report has come, but the doctors haven’t told me how much time it will take. As soon as they tell, the rehab will start according to their instructions.” he further added.

Shadab highlighted the proactive approach being taken to ensure effective rehabilitation process ahead of Pakistan’s T20I series against New Zealand in January.

“The injury doesn’t seem too prolonged. The physios will assess it and plan accordingly for the New Zealand series.” he concluded.