By Godwill Odilu
FIFA world cup semi-finalists, Morocco are the first team to arrive in Côte d’Ivoire for the 34th CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
The Atlas Lions, led by coach Walid Regragui, were welcomed with lively traditional ceremonies organized by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) at Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport.
The significant arrival, featured cultural celebrations amid tight security, with key players like Youssef En-Nesyri and PSG’s Achraf Hakimi stepping onto Ivorian soil.
The welcoming committee, led by Ivorian Minister of Transport Amadou Kone, included Morocco’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire Abdelmalek Kettani, CAF officials, and LOC members. Adding to the festive atmosphere, the Moroccan community in Abidjan celebrated the team that had reached the 2022 World Cup semi-finals in Qatar.
With a clear focus, the Atlas Lions headed straight to San Pedro, their base for acclimatization, and venue for Group F clashes against DR Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Their journey kicks off on January 17, 2024, with a match against Tanzania at the Laurent Pokou Stadium, followed by fixtures against DR Congo on January 21 and Zambia on January 24.
As a semi-finalist in the previous World Cup, Morocco is a strong contender for the Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023. Their quest for glory, with the last triumph in 1976, embodies a 48-year dream of bringing the title back home.
Meanwhile, the host nation, Côte d’Ivoire, arrived in Abidjan on Sunday morning after a convincing 5-1 warm-up victory against Sierra Leone in San Pedro.