Sellami pleased with players despite preparation issues

8 May 2017

Morocco coach Jamal Sellami was delighted with the way the defending champions claimed a hardfought win over Saudi Arabia in the Islamic Solidarity Games opener in Baku on Monday, despite their difficult buildup to the match.

The north Africans deservedly took all three points from a Group A clash that they dominated at the Azal Arena, thanks to substitute Chouaib El Maftoul's 76th-minute winner.

"I am very grateful to my players for their wonderful performance," said Sellami.

"There was a slight problem with the artificial pitch which we struggled with while playing.

"It took us a long time to score the only goal. I reckon that they did experience the same challenges as we did though.

"We have one player injured which is the only downside, and we don't have long to recover before the next game."

Sellami said that the team struggled after arriving shortly before the Games.

The majority of his squad are amateur players from the country's lower leagues, with the domestic competitions yet to finish and important international fixtures to come in the next few weeks.

"The thing is, apparently all the teams have been experiencing all the same difficulties," he added.

"Baku 2017 coincided with many continental football games and championships and that's why we're still putting our team together.

"So next time make sure that there are less overlaps with other tournaments."

Opposition coach Yousef Anbar echoed his counterpart's views, but seemed content with his side's performance, despite them not having a single shot on goal until the 95th minute.

"It was a very exciting game," he insisted.

"We trained for the game with a proper process, but we only arrived to Azerbaijan a couple of days ago."

Morocco will next face Cameroon on Thursday at the Bayil Arena on the other side of Baku, but captain Houssam Amaanan isn't looking too far ahead.

"We're very grateful to the organisation and all the teams, it's wonderful," he said.

"We came here to show our best and it's the participation that matters most."

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