Morocco v Tunisia preview
Haggui wary of revenge mission; Gerets expecting tough tie
Last Updated: 23/01/12 3:18pm
Chamakh: Backed by boss
Morocco and Tunisia will both be looking to make a strong start when they meet in what promises to be an enthralling Group C clash on Monday evening.
Tunisia captain Karim Haggui expects Morocco to have revenge on their minds when the rivals collide in their Africa Cup of Nations opener.
The Eagles of Carthage defeated Morocco in the 2004 Nations Cup final, and also pipped their North African neighbours to a spot at the 2006 World Cup - prompting Haggui's wariness.
"It's only normal they (Morocco) see this as a chance for revenge, we beat them and won the title in 2004 and then came out on top in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup," said Haggui.
Nevertheless, the Hannover defender backs his team to impress yet again.
"Tunisia have the advantage because we are the ones who have won at the big championships. This is our chance to continue that tradition," he said.
"Of course winning the title in 2004 was important, but that's history, we have a new generation now, we want to write a new page in our history."
In team news, Tunisia's record scorer Issam Jemaa, with 26 strikes, is expected to play a big role, while Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse), Yassine Chikhaoui (FC Zurich) and Sami Allagui (Mainz 05) are also key assets in coach Sami Trabelsi's squad.
Meanwhile, Morocco tactician Eric Gerets predicts a tight encounter in Libreville.
"It's all about the team that's better prepared, the one that has better discipline," he said.
"Tunisia have lots of talented players, they are a very good team, but I have a good team too."
Gerets is likely to rely on Marouane Chamakh up front, despite the Arsenal man seeing little game time for the Gunners this season.
Gerets said: "Players who don't play regularly for their European clubs will be motivated not only to do well for their country but also to show their capabilities to their (club) coaches.
"I'm certain they will want to give that something extra to show their good qualities to their managers. In a way they are also playing for their places at club level."
"He is capable of taking the chances against Tunisia."
The Frenchman will start with Nadir Lamyaghrim between the posts, with the veteran goalkeeper shaking off a shoulder injury in time for the event.
"There's no question that he's not our number one keeper. He's experienced, he speaks to his defence, he's never disappointed me. There's no reason to say he's too old, or lacks competition, or is injured. He's got lots of qualities," Gerets concluded.
Africa Cup of Nations Group A
Africa Cup of Nations Group B
Africa Cup of Nations Group C
Africa Cup of Nations Group D