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Preview: Morocco vs. Malawi

In Tuesday’s later Round of 16 match at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, heavy favorites Morocco clash with Malawi for a spot in the quarterfinals. Morocco’s Atlas Lions navigated Group C to emerge as group winners and continue to look like one of the contenders to take top honors in Cameroon. The Flames of Malawi have been one of the major surprises at the competition and are eager to provide stiff opposition on their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of the competition.

Morocco recognize their status as one of the favorites to win the competition but understand well the danger that Malawi possess. Having put in good performances in the 2017 and 2019 editions of the competition, the Atlas Lions fell earlier than anticipated to Egypt in 2017 and Benin on penalty kicks in 2019, making supporters very aware of how quickly things can go wrong in the knockout stages. Manager Vahid Halilhodžić stated that the theme of the 2021 AFCON is there are no favorites and his side must be ready to fight. Halilhodžić will not have attacking midfielder Fayçal Fajr available due to Covid-19 but it appears that star full back Achraf Hakimi will be ready to start after previous reports indicated an injury may keep the Paris Saint-Germain player out.

The Flames are embracing their opportunity on the big stage and an excellent performance in Group B has Malawi beyond the group stage for the first time in the country’s history at the competition. Star striker Frank “Gabadinho” Mhango expected more to come from himself and the team after the Orlando Pirates marksman shook off poor club form to lead his team to a victory over Zimbabwe and draw with heavy favorites Senegal. As the lone representative in the competition from COSAFA (Southern Africa), Malawi are ready to go as far as possible to represent their region as well as the nation. Manger Mario Marinica indicated the players are treating Tuesday’s matchup as the game of their lives and will rely on their quality in defense to keep the match close.

Key Matchup: Sofiane Boufal (MAR) vs. Stanley Sanudi (MWI)

Boufal has broken out for Morocco as a playmaker who needs to be in the starting lineup after featuring mainly as a substitute in the team’s recent 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification matches. Mighty Wanderers right back Stanley Sanudi will be called upon provide stiff opposition as well as Malawi’s central players as Boufal attempts to cut inside from the left wing.

Prediction: Morocco 2-0 Malawi

Further Reading

Morocco vs Malawi – Game of our lives (CAF Online)
Match Facts – Morocco v Malawi (CAF Online)
Mhango Ready to Take On The Big Guns (iDiski Times)

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