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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 14:41 GMT
Zaki defends Morocco goalkeeper
By Osasu Obayiuwana
BBC Sport

Morocco manager Badou Zaki
Badou praised Fouhami's form during the tournament

Morocco manager Badou Zaki has absolved goalkeeper Khalid Fouhami of blame for their loss to Tunisia in the Cup of Nations final.

An error from Fouhami gave striker Ziad Jaziri the chance to poke home the winner in Saturday's game at the Rades stadium in Tunis.

Fouhami was in tears after the match ended but Zaki said the entire team must take responsibility for the defeat.

"[Khalid] must have thought that the second goal was his mistake but I did not want him to feel that.

We didn't lose because of him
Morocco manager Badou Zaki

"I have been in his position and I knew how he felt," Zaki, a former goalkeeper of the national team, told BBC Sport.

"He came into the game with a fighting spirit, thinking that we would take this cup home but it stays in Tunis.

"We didn't lose because of him but because Tunisia scored two goals and we only managed to score one.

"He had a very good tournament overall and I am proud of him and all my players," Zaki said.

Leading the Atlas Lions to their first Cup of Nations final in 28 years, the goalkeeping legend said the tournament has taught valuable lessons to his young squad.

Khalid Fouhami
Fouhami in tears after Morocco's loss to Tunisia

"My players have been able to compete against high quality opposition and reach the finals of the competition.

"With the exception of [Noureddine] Naybet and [Youssef] Safri, I came to this tournament with young players. But they played without any complex," Zaki said.

The 1986 African Footballer of the Year said his players cannot bask in the euphoria of their Nations Cup performance for long, as the final round of games in the joint 2006 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers beckon.

"We have a lot to do and we must work hard to build on what we have achieved at the Cup of Nations to ensure that we get to the Nations Cup in Egypt and the World Cup in Germany," Zaki said.

Zaki praises his young side
16 Feb 04  |  African
Morocco seek revenge
15 Feb 04  |  African

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