The 42,500 capacity Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon will be the centre of attraction today when the Black Stars of Ghana begin their quest to break the 40 year wait when they lock horns withThe Atlas Lions of Morocco in the opening Group C game of the AFCON 2021.

Morocco after being eliminated by Benin on penalties (Round of 16) in the last edition of the AFCON staged in Egypt, have enjoyed a sensational journey en route to this year’s tournament. Morocco roared and climbed to the apex of Group E in a fearless manner as they went unbeaten throughout the qualifiers. They won four games and drew two -amassing 14 points in the process.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s side after being eliminated by eventual winners of the Arab Cup, Algeria, in the quarter finals hope to kick start their campaign in Africa’s prestigious tournament on a high note today.

The light from the Stars is diminishing as they last lifted the AFCON trophy four decades ago in Libya. However, they head into the tournament as the third most successful country in the history of the competition with 4 trophies. Their journey to the tournament has been always smooth as they topped their group with 13 points after 4 wins, a draw and a loss. The Black Stars lost to Algeria 3-0 in their preparatory game ahead of the tournament.

Their little rivalry dates back to 1961 when they met in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. From then, both countries have had the better side of each other depending on their form. The last time the two sides clashed, it was the Maghrebians who returned home the happier side.

Games Played-11
Ghana Wins- 3
Morocco Wins- 5

02 Apr 1961 Ghana v Morocco 0-0 FIFA World Cup
28 May 1961 Morocco v Ghana 1-0 FIFA World Cup
13 Jun 1975 Morocco v Ghana 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations
29 Jun 1975 Ghana v Morocco 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations
16 Mar 1980 Morocco v Ghana 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations
12 Jan 1997 Ghana v Morocco 2-2 FIFA World Cup
08 Jun 1997 Morocco v Ghana 1-0 FIFA World Cup
21 Jan 2002 Ghana v Morocco 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations
08 Sep 2007 Ghana v Morocco 2-0 International Friendly
28 Jan 2008 Ghana v Morocco 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations
08 Jun 2021 Morocco v Ghana L 1-0 International Friendly

Halilhodzic men includes Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Romain Saiss, Achraf Hakimi, the Sevilla trio of Yassine Bounou, Munir El Haddadi and Youssef En-Nesyri.

Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, has also been given his debut call up after his exploits with Barcelona. However, they will miss the services of Chelsea forward, Hakim Ziyech, who has been out of the team since June 2021 due yo a feud with the Bosnian manger and Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui, who misses out through injury. Another slap in the face of the Moroccans is that, their team has been hit with Covid-19.

Ghana on the other hand has all their gunners ready for war. The likes of Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew, the experienced Mubarak Wakaso and the talented Kamaldeen Sulleiman are all poised for the game as revealed by head coach Milovan Rajevac in his press conference. Mohammed Kudus would be missen in action as he is still in the camp of Ajax.

The Lions are unbeaten in their last five games while the Stars have been inconsistent.

Morocco form (all competitions):

Ghana form (all competitions)

Source: Ghana/ Ohenba Mckeown