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Southampton star Sofiane Boufal will lead Morocco’s Africa Cup of Nations bid after being included in the 23-man squad named by coach Herve Renard on Tuesday.

Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia, Monaco’s Nabil Dirar and Nordin Amrabat of Watford are some of the other key players for the Atlas Lions.

However, Morocco are without the influential midfielder Younes Belhanda, who is on loan at French club Nice from Dynamo Kiev, after a fractured toe suffered just before Christmas ruled him out for up to six weeks.

Morocco, whose only triumph in the Cup of Nations came in 1976, are in Group C for the tournament that begins in Gabon on January 14.

They will open their campaign against DR Congo on January 16 in Oyem before also facing Togo and the Ivory Coast.

Frenchman Renard was the Ivory Coast coach when they lifted the trophy two years ago in Equatorial Guinea.


Goalkeepers: Munir Mohamedi (Numancia/ESP), Yassine Bounou (Girona/ESP), Yassine El Kharroubi (Lokomotiv Plovdiv/BUL)

Defenders: Medhi Benatia (Juventus/ITA), Manuel Da Costa (Olympiakos/GRE), Amine Attouchi (Wydad Casablanca), Hamza Mendyl (Lille/FRA), Fouad Chafik (Dijon/FRA), Nabil Dirar (Monaco/FRA)

Midfielders: Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG), Youssef Aït Bennasser (Nancy/FRA), Mounir Obbadi (Lille/FRA), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord/NED), Fayçal Fajr (Deportivo/ESP), M’bark Boussoufa (Al Jazira/UAE), Sofiane Boufal (Southampton/ENG), Mehdi Carcela (Granada/ESP), Nordin Amrabat (Watford/ENG), Aziz Bouhaddouz (St Pauli/GER)

Forwards: Rachid Alioui (Nîmes/FRA), Youssef El Arabi (Lekhwiya/QAT), Khalid Boutaib