Best African National Teams of the 2000s: #7

In 7th place of Michael McDuffie’s Top 10 African National Teams of the 2000s is Morocco’s 2004 AFCON side.

Though they lost the final, Morocco put together a free-scoring campaign in Tunisia in 2004. Led by manager Ezzaki Badou and joint top scorer of the tournament Youssef Mokhtari, the Atlas Lions scored a staggering 14 goals in their six tournament matches while only conceding four.

A 1-0 win over Nigeria and a 1-1 draw were the bookends to a 4-0 thrashing of Benin, allowing Morocco to qualify for the quarterfinals as Group D winners.

In the quarterfinals against Algeria, Morocco saved themselves at the last moment, with a 90th minute goal from striker Marouane Chamakh sending the match to extra time. In the extra time period, goals from Youssouf Hadji and Jaouad Zairi gave Morocco the 3-1 victory. In the semifinal, Morocco played a much less dramatic match, dispatching Mali 4-0. Morocco booked themselves the opportunity to play for the AFCON title for the first time since winning the competition in 1976, when it was played with a final round system, rather than a knockout format.

Morocco could not replicate their previous high-flying heroics in the final, going down just five minutes into the match against Tunisia. An equalizer from Mokhtari was then outdone by Ziad Jaziri’s winner in the second half. Despite the loss, the run was still impressive. However, Morocco are still looking for their first AFCON championship since 1976 to date.