AFCON 2019 Rough Guide: Group D
Since reaching the final in Tunisia in 2004, Morocco have sleep-walked through Nations Cup tournaments. In the five AFCON appearances they’ve made since, the Atlas Lions have reached one quarter-final (in 2017) and fallen out at the group stage in the other tournaments. But they do have, in coach Herve Renard, a man who’s led teams to glory in this competition in the recent past, and after being unlucky at the World Cup last year, perhaps this is the time they finally hold their own in the continent.
Last seen: Morocco lost to Egypt at the quarter-finals in Gabon two years ago.
Record: The Atlas Lions were champions in 1976, in Ethiopia.
The Gaffer: French coach Herve Renard won the Nations Cup with Zambia in 2012, and with Cote d’Ivoire (whom his side will face in this group) three years later.
The Ivory Coast got that monkey off their backs in 2015, by winning the Nations Cup (under Herve Renard). But the Elephants have stuttered since then, a group stage exit at the AFCON in 2017 was followed by failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Ivory Coast are on their third manager since Renard left in 2015, and were without a coach for a bit after the departure of Belgian Marc Wilmots.
But there are signs of things looking up under Ibrahim Kamara – they’ve lost just one game since his appointment. And the Elephants look well-equipped in the final third – especially with the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha in the side.
Last seen: The Elephants were knocked out in the group stage after losing to Morocco – who beat them to a World Cup spot in 2017, and whom they meet in this group – in their third game in 2017.
Record: Cote d’Ivoire were champions in Equatorial Guinea in 2015, as well as in Senegal in 1992.
The Gaffer: 53 year-old Ibrahim Kamara was appointed in July last year, after previously coaching the Under-17, Under-20, and Under-23 sides.
Under-performance has been South Africa’s forte in AFCON tournaments for a while, so much so that they’re now seen as the standard, and any different is quite a feat. Of the last six Nations Cup tournaments that have been played, Bafana Bafana have only appeared in two of those, and they hosted one of those two tournaments.
Whatever low expectations many, particularly outside the country, had for them has significantly lowered after they got drawn alongside Morocco and the Ivory Coast. Qualification as one of the best third-placed sides is probably the best they could hope for, and even that is hardly a given.
Last seen: South Africa 2015 AFCON journey came to an end after three games, as they finished bottom of what was another tough group.
Record: Bafana Bafana were winners on home soil in 1996.
The Gaffer: Former Preston North End and Helsingborgs midfielder Stuart Baxter is in second spell with the South African national side, having previously coached them between 2004 and 2005.
Namibia’s Nations Cup record is far from glamorous, the Brave Warriors have only be in the continental competition twice, the last of which was over a decade ago. They finished second in Group K in qualifying (above Mozambique and 2012 champions Zambia), to get here, but their chances of getting out this group are incredibly slim after getting drawn with Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. Plus, they are not coming into this tournament in good stead after getting exiting the COSAFA Cup at the group stage last month.
Last seen: Namibia finished bottom of their group in 2008.
Record: The Brave Warriors have appeared in two previous tournaments, the other being in Burkina Faso in 1998, and both finished with group stage exits.
The Gaffer: Former Namibian international Ricardo Manetti was appointed in 2015, or rather re-appointed in 2015, after initially leaving following a fallout with the Namibian FA. The former Namibia Under-20 boss first took charge in 2013.
June 23 – Morocco v Namibia (Cairo)
June 24 – South Africa v Cote d’Ivoire (Cairo)
June 28 – Morocco v Cote d’Ivoire (Cairo)
June 28 – South Africa v Namibia (Cairo)
July 1 – South Africa v Morocco (Cairo)
July 1 – Namibia v Cote d’Ivoire (Cairo)