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Coaches react to Afcon draw


Cairo — Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr says he is wary of the two debutant teams in the Super Eagles’ group at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Nigeria have drawn Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi in Group B – with the latter two making their first appearance at these newly expanded finals.

“It’s good to see new countries, with the enthusiasm that they can bring to this African Cup of Nations,” Rohr said.

“Madagascar, I know them very well; my wife is from Madagascar,” the coach added.

“There are no easy matches for us, we never underrate anybody. But I hope we can come out of this group and go as far as possible,” Rohr, who also praised Burundi for the way they ousted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon in the qualifiers, said.

Rohr said he was expecting to play friendly matches against two serious contenders for the title, Senegal and Ghana, in the run up to the tournament.

Guinea coach Paul Put also suggested that Burundi and Madagascar would present a possible problem in their group.

“I know from my time with Burkina Faso [who he took to the final against Nigeria in 2013] that outsiders can go very far, so we have to be careful,” the Guinea coach told BBC Sport.

“It’s always difficult with outsiders who have nothing to lose. Our concentration has to be up there.”

Morocco coach Herve Renard says yet another meeting with his former team Ivory Coast is a “special game” for him.

The man who led the Elephants to Nation Cup glory will take on his former charges for the third time in as many years, after the draw was made in Cairo on
Friday night.

South Africa and Namibia complete their pool, but it is the meeting between the Atlas Lions and Ivory Coast on 26th June which attracts most attention in
Group D.

“One more time!” Renard exclaimed as the draw put the two sides together for the third time in a row, after the two were also drawn together in the 2017 Nations Cup and 2018 World Cup qualifying campaigns.

But Renard said that Morocco, after their Russia 2018 experience, were coming to the Nations Cup with “ambition” to add to their one continental crown – and for that they would need to concentrate on all their opponents.

Bafana coach Stuart Baxter said: “The draw on the surface is not an easy one‚” the Bafana coach said.

“It’s got two top nations in the continent and a local derby.

‘‘I think a lot of people will be looking at our group thinking this is a group of death‚ which is good for us because that shows that they rate us as a dangerous opponent. This squad has done very well in qualification and I’m sitting here telling you that if we can concentrate on that and keep that development‚ I think we will be dangerous. I think I’ve got great confidence in the players and I think if they can go there and show the character they showed against Libya (in the away final Nations Cup qualifier that secured qualification in Tunisia last month) and express themselves at the right time‚ then I think it is realistic that we can have a good tournament.”

Egypt’s assistant coach, Hany Ramzy, said after the draw the Pharaohs were “comfortable” with their pool, which pits them against the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe in Group A.

“We are confident, we are here in our land with the supporters behind us, so we have to work hard to reach the final.”

Talking about the opening game against Zimbabwe, ranked more than 50 places below them, he acknowledged that the Warriors will still pose a test to the host nation.

“Whoever you play against, the opening game will be tough, but I think we can win the match.”

Draw in full

Group A: Egypt, DRC, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi

Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania

Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia

Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola

Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau — BBCSport

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