Africa Cup of Nations record

Previous appearances in finals: (17) 1972, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2019

Best performance: Winners 1976

Drawn in Group C with Comoros Islands, Gabon and Ghana

Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic

The former Yugoslav international, who played at the 1982 World Cup, has been coach of four national teams – Ivory Coast, Algeria, Japan and now Morocco.

This will be his third Cup of Nations finals after coaching at the 2010 finals with the Ivorians and 2013 with Algeria. He also took Algeria to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Morocco hired him after the last Cup of Nations finals and the 69-year-old takes his team into the tournament in Cameroon on the back of nine successive victories.

Key player: Achraf Hakimi

Age: 23

Defender

Spanish-born Hakimi came through the ranks at Real Madrid but made his name out on loan at Borussia Dortmund before a 43-million euro ($48.57 million) move to Inter Milan and then a 60-million euro transfer to Paris St Germain in July.

He was just 17 when he debuted for Morocco and quickly made the left back berth his own, going onto compete at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the last edition of the Cup of Nations finals, in Egypt.

His electric pace has made him one of the game’s more exciting wing backs and a major asset for Morocco’s hopes of a first Nations Cup success in more than 40 years.

FIFA world ranking Dec. 2021: 28

How they qualified: Top place team in Group E, ahead of Mauritania, Burundi and the Central African Republic.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla), Munir (Hatayspor), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)

Defenders: Nayef Aguerd (Stade Rennes), Sofiane Alakouch (Metz), Badr Benoun (Al Ahly), Sofian Chakla (OH Leuven), Mohamed Chibi (Royal Armed Forces), Souffian El Karouani (NEC Nijmegen), Achraf Hakimi (Paris St Germain), Adam Masina (Watford), Samy Mmaee (Ferencvaros), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Midfielders: Selim Amallah (Standard Liege), Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers), Faycal Fajr (Sivasspor), Imran Louza (Watford), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers), Soufiane Rahimi (Al Ain)

Forwards: Zakaria Aboukhlal (AZ Alkmaar), Sofiane Boufal (Angers), Munir El Haddadi (Sevilla), Ayoub El Kaabi (Hatayspor), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), Tarik Tissoudali (Gent), Ryan Mmaee (Ferencvaros).