Morocco coach Walid Regragui has admitted to having a lot of respect for South Africa as they prepare to clash in their Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 fixture at the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro on Tuesday.
Speaking ahead of the game, Regragui said the Atlas Lions must trade carefully against a Bafana Bafana side that beat them in a friendly staged at FNB Stadium on June 17, 2023.
“We respect South Africa because they are the only team that defeated us after the World Cup. We are not the favorite to qualify after seeing the surprises in this edition,” said Regragui.
“Facing South Africa won’t be easy, yes, we respect them but without any fear. We must be humble, and I believe we are on the right path. We came to Ivory Coast to win the title.”
He added: “The knockout stage is a new tournament. Any bad result will send us home. We have experience in the knockout stages after our outstanding performance in the 2022 World Cup.
“I don’t want to talk about the past. Everyone knows Morocco’s history in the AFCON. Every edition is tough for us despite our efforts to win the title.”
On the injuries that have plunged his side, he said: “Sofiane Boufal’s journey in the Africa Cup of Nations has ended unless there is a miracle, due to his muscle injury.
“Hakim Ziyech’s eligibility for the South Africa match? We will try with him until the last moment to play, but if I say that we won’t take risks with him, it would be disrespectful to South Africa.”