GABON and Morocco have identified today’s Group C meeting as crucial to their respective Africa Cup of Nations fortunes - but for vastly different reasons.
For Gabon, victory against the 1976 winners will guarantee the co-hosts a place in the quarterfinals after their opening 2-0 win over Niger.
For Morocco, who lost to Tunisia in their opener, defeat will mean they are checking out of their waterfront hotel early, an embarrassing fate after failing to qualify for 2010.
The North Africans were in defiant mood at training on Wednesday, despite missing five of the squad including Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh to various assorted illnesses and injuries.
Disappointed at falling 2-1 to Tunisia, they spoke of ironing out the faults that conspired to leave them on zero points and make amends against a buoyant Gabon team.
Rennes midfielder Youssef Hadji, part of the side that failed to make it out of the first round in 2008, stressed Morocco were ready to play the party pooper and topple their hosts.
“We have a side that can go far. After the Tunisia defeat we’ve got to react, it’s obvious we need a win, and we have the possibility to do just that,” he said.
Morocco’s opponents Gabon meanwhile galloped to a rousing 2-0 win against debutants Niger to send this small central West African nation into ecstasy, and Gernot Rohr’s men will prove hard to stop as they target a last eight berth.