Morocco Vs Nigeria 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa: Can Morocco's tight defence stop Nigeria's potent attack? - Saturday’s quarter-final match at the ongoing 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa between debutant Nigeria and Morocco will be a game of the best attacking forward against one of the best defence lines in the tournament.
Nigeria has scored the highest number of goals in this tournament (8) going into the quarter-finals against a Moroccan team which has let in just two goals and scored only four goals in three matches at the group stage.
However, Gabon and DR Congo have also let in only two goals each while the best defence remains that of the Black Stars of Ghana with only one goal conceded.
Led by their goalkeeper, Nadir Lamyarghri, the Moroccan defence will try to contain the rampaging Nigerians who have met the Moroccans 18 times at full international. Morocco has won eight times while Nigeria has triumphed six times, with four matches ending in draws.
Despite this, Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi says he hopes his team will be playing the CHAN final on 1 February.
'We will continue to work hard to put smile on the faces of Nigerians,' said Keshi, who clocked 52 on Thursday. 'Our aim is to take every game as they come and hopefully we will be here until the first of next month.'
Keshi said Morocco 'will be difficult opponents'.
The good news for Nigeria is that all 23 players were involved in training on Thursday, featuring the injured Benjamin Francis, Ikenna Paul, Barnabas Imenger.
They are expected to be further galvanised by a US$100,000 cash incentive announced by the country’s sports ministry.
Morocco parades two dangerous forwards in Mouhcine Iajour and Abdessamad Rafik, who helped in eliminating defending champion Tunisia to qualify for 2014 CHAN.
With its solid defence, Morocco could also be relying on fast counter attacks to catch the Nigerians napping.
But Nigeria hopes to justify its blistering form by caging the Atlas Lions for a place in the last four.
The Moroccans are yet to lose a game from the qualifying series of the tournament, and also went unbeaten with one win and two draws from their three fixtures in Group B at this tournament.
The Super Eagles have proved that they are capable of scoring goals aplenty and against Morocco, they could still do it with players like Ejike Uzoenyi, who scored a brace in their last group game against host South Africa.
The other quarter-final match is between Mali and Zimbabwe.
Preview by Vincent Obi, PANA Editor