By Petros Kausiyo and Tadious Manyepo
Morocco forwards’ coach Gasni Kouider says pressure will be on Zimbabwe when the North Africans clash against the Sables in the Africa Gold Cup opener on Saturday.
Zimbabwe, who had a pathetic run last year, survived the chop from the elite Group 1A by the skin of their teeth last season and the appointment of Peter De Villiers by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union has brought new belief.
Morocco, who were promoted from the Silver Cup last year are, however, fancying their chances.
The North Africans only have one player who plies his trade in the domestic league with the bulk dotted around Europe, especially in the French leagues.
They slaos have internationally-acclaimed backs-coach Pierre Chadebech in their ranks.
“It’s interesting for us because we are outsiders. We were playing in the Silver Cup last year and now we are in Gold Cup. It is very interesting for us and that can give us an edge over Zimbabwe.
“We have prepared well for the match against Zimbabwe but I believe the pressure is more on them than us since this is only our first match in the Gold Cup and we are playing away from home.
“But we can use that to our advantage since we will not be under any pressure. We have physically and mentally conditioned our players and I am confident they will deliver.
“We have many good players in the team who can perform on any day,” Koudier said.
The Moroccans underlined the significance they are placing on this Group 1A opener when they quietly flew into Harare on Sunday and have shied away from the spotlight as they went about acclimatising and preparing for the match.
“We came on Sunday to try and adjust to the weather because there is a big difference between here and Morocco and I believe we are now used to the weather here and ready to play,” he said.
“As I have said earlier on, we are outsiders but we are going to see how it will go. We will see where we stand as we play Zimbabwe. We will try to win.
“We know that we are coming from the Silver Cup and we will have to try and protect our status in the Gold Cup. “We will take each game as it comes otherwise we are also looking forward to qualifying for the World Cup.
“We hope to win the game.”
A bumper crowd is also expected to descend on the refurbished Machinery Exchange Rugby Stadium where captain Denford Mutamangira and his troops know the result could set the tone of the remainder of their campaign.