The first spot in the last eight of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations will be up for grabs when Morocco, the Group D winners, meet Benin in the first Round of 16 matchups at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo tonight.
The Atlas Lions have enjoyed a three-match winning streak since the kickoff of the tournament and even triumphed over favorites Ivory Coast in the process.
They head into this fixture in incredible form and are the clear-cut favorites against The Squirrels, who barely sealed their place in the last 16 and are without a single win in the tournament.
Key Match Facts
This will be the second encounter between Morocco and Benin in the Africa Cup of Nations. Morocco won the first one, back on January 31, 2004.
Morocco have won their last three games in the Africa Cup of Nations. They have won four in a row only once in AFCON history, during their title-winning run in 1976.
Benin has never won a match at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Captain Mehdi Benatia was rested in the victory over South Africa, so he is expected to step up into this fixture to partner up with Romain Saiss in the upcoming fixture.
All of the players at the disposal of coach Hervé Renard are match fit and there is no player who is currently on suspension, so he will have all the freedom to field the strongest squad so as to secure passage into the next round.
The starting XI from the group stage fixture had performed well, winning all the three games, without conceding a goal, so we do not expect any major upheaval in the squad announcement from the French manager for tonight's clash.
Making any changes in the squad at such a crucial moment, could produce undesirable results and hamper the team's spirit going forward.
Youssef En-Nesyri, goalscorer against Ivory Coast should continue as the lone man in attack, while Mbark Boussoufa is also expected to start with star wingers Hakim Ziyech and Nordin Amrabat providing support.
Predicted XI: Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Medhi Benatia, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui, Hakim Ziyech, Karim El Ahmadi, Mbark Boussoufa, Younès Belhanda, Nordin Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri.