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Gabon wary of desperate Morocco

Published by Tribune on Fri, 27 Jan 2012

AFTER downing an unsettled looking Niger side in its Group C opener, 2012 Afcon co-host is now gearing up to face a Moroccan team still reeling from its disappointing 2-1 loss to Maghreb rival Tunisia.Gernot Rohr's men looked stellar against the Mena, hardly taking their foot off the pedal while being led by the irrepressible Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.However, the German coach will be well aware that facing an Atlas Lions team on the brink of elimination will be a much more serious test for his side.Aside for the outstanding home support that the Panthers will be certain to enjoy at the Angondje stadium in Libreville, another positive for them is that they're at full strength and haven't sustained any injuries.Furthermore, Stephane Nguema is the only player they have who is carrying a yellow card into the encounter.Thus, the pre-match conditions are ideal for the Gabonese as they look to produce another solid showing.The situation on the Moroccan side of the fence is more complex as their opening game loss to the Carthage Eagles was followed by many Moroccans questioning Eric Gerets' personnel decisions, particularly the inclusion of an out of form Oussama Assaidi.Criticisms seem to be justified as the latest news from the Atlas Lions camp is that Assaidi, who perhaps should have been left out to recover fully, re-injured his achilles and will probably miss the match against Gabon.Meanwhile, right-back Michael Basser sustained an ankle injury and may also be forced to sit this one out. While he wouldn't have played anyway, the fact that third-string goalkeeper Issam Badda has been diagnosed with what is being termed a benign form of Malaria isn't good news either. Furthermore, Marouane Chamakh is suffering from a fever and didn't train on Wednesday. The north Africans will have to overcome all of these difficulties if they hope to resurrect their tournament.
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