By Nick Reeves
By Nick Reeves
Libreville, January 26, 2012 (AFP)
Morocco are prepared to take risks “without committing suicide” to ensure victory over Gabon Friday and improve their prospects of prolonging their stay at the Africa Cup of Nations.
That was the message delivered by coach Eric Gerets on Thursday, 24 hours before the pivotal confrontation with the buoyant co-hosts in Libreville.
While Gabon are flying high at the top of Group C after beating Niger, Morocco are at the bottom of the pile after their opening loss to Tunisia.
Gerets conceded: “We know we have our backs to the wall.
“We need to win, we need to take certain risks without committing suicide.
“The questions I’m asking are do we take risks on the tactical front, or try to control the game and take less risk…”
On the plus side the former Marseille boss reported that Marouane Chamakh had recovered from the stomach upset that forced the Arsenal striker to skip training on Wednesday.
He also had encouraging news of third choice keeper Issam Badda, who is set to resume training after a bout of malaria, but Chamakh’s fellow forward Oussama As-Saidi will miss the Gabon game with a tendon problem.
Doubts also surround the availability of Turkey-based defender Michael Basser.
Gerets told a press conference at his team’s hotel that his players were prepared for “a difficult game”.
“But we know what we have to do, that is play our game that made us strong in the last couple of months – our quick game with good combinations, with the ball moving fast.
“I hope we’ll find our game as soon as possible to go through to the second round, otherwise we’ll be heading home.
“We saw the example yesterday with Senegal (beaten 2-1 by Equatorial Guinea in Bata).
“I’ve rarely seen a team dominate in the first half like Senegal did. One of the best teams in the competition are going home.”
The Belgian said he had been seduced by Gabon’s tenacity at trying to regain the ball.
“They’ve got fabulous speed up front but on top of that whenever they lose the ball everyone works (to get it back), no one gives up. To play teams like that you have to be careful not to lose the ball too easily, otherwise things can get complicated.”
Despite failing to get points on the board in the maghreb derby Gerets emphasised he retained full confidence in the ability of his side.
“The quality of my squad doesn’t change from one day to another – it would be illogical to doubt my players now.
“I wanted to see how they reacted mentally to the defeat, and the signs I picked up from training yesterday gives me hope for this match – the players are hungry.
“They have showed the Tunisia game is behind them, that gives me a good feeling.”
Asked how he was feeling, his reply dripped with sarcasm: “Fantastic! We’ve got zero points, everything is fine..we’ve got all the reasons in the world to feel at ease with ourselves….”
He continued: “This is the biggest competition of my career, it’s normal I’m a little stressed.
“There’s a little more adrenalin and responsibility, this is my first Nations Cup, it’s logical there’s some pressure but all the same I’ve got a few years in this job and I can handle it.”