Now fans of the #HerveWatch series of which there are….some, will have probably been wondering where the updates had got to. Truth be told I forgot about the AFCON Qualifiers but you need not worry as Herve Renard’s Morocco topped their group with 16 points out of a possible 18 and they will be one of the 16 teams competing in next year’s edition of the tournament.
For Renard himself when he takes this Morocco side to Gabon he will be looking to be the first ever man to win the competition as manager of three different nations, after already winning with Zambia and Ivory Coast he will now look to add Morocco to the list nations that have been led to glory under the auspicious of quite possibly the hunkiest manager in World Football.
That is the challenge for next year but now there is now there is another one on the horizon and that is qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In a group where only the winners qualify it has pitted them in quite a difficult one with AFCON hosts Gabon, AFCON holders Ivory Coast and Mali pitted up against The Atlas Lions.
And it was Gabon were Renard took his Lions to yesterday for their opening qualifier and they opened their account in the group with a hard fought 0-0 draw. A point away from home is not to be sniffed at and you would imagine that the encounters between any combination of Morocco, Gabon and Ivory Coast will see these sides take points off of each other. Therefore a draw away from home isn’t the worst way to start proceedings.
If Morocco can win all their home games then the points on the road will arguably be the most vital. They will also look to the encounters with Mali and know that anything less than 6 points from those will severely hamper their chances of making it to Russia in 2018.
Next up for Morocco is a tie against a familiar face in the Ivory Coast. Renard was in charge when he led the Ivory Coast to AFCON glory back in 2015 so the subplot for this game pretty much writes itself, but there will be no time for sentiment as everygame in this incredibly tight game is a must win. I’ll be back with the next part of HerveWatch in November, until then
I’ll leave you with brief highlights of the bore draw between Gabon and Morocco