The arrival of Morocco for the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has caused a stir in the capital, Yaounde in the last 72 hours.
The 86-man delegation including 28 players, technical and administrative staff landed in Yaounde on Sunday, joining early birds Ethiopia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, who jetted in the country earlier for camps ahead of the tournament that is scheduled to begin on Sunday.
The arrival of the Atlas Lions has not however been talk of the city as a result of the fact they arrived early, but because the team has come along with tonnes of food, cooks, mattresses, beds and hotel staff to work in their temporary abode in Yaounde.
Moroccan daily newspaper, Al Ahdath Al Maghribia (The Moroccan News, reported that the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has taken the decision to avoid any contamination of players in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The federation has ensured rooms and other compartments at the team’s hotel in Yaounde are sterilized, while beddings and blankets have been replaced by those transported from the Kingdom.
Local hotel staff with direct contact to players have been replaced by those also ferried from Morocco, while security agents have also been brought in.
Analysts say say however that traveling with home foods by teams to a competition is not a novelty as many countries do that during tournaments and even during qualifiers.
“It is surprising that Morocco’s cuisine, hygiene and health precautions have been blown out of proportion,” said Franklin Sone Bayen, a Sports Analyst and former reporter, who has covered international competitions including the World Cup.
“I have travelled with the Cameroon national team and that practice is not uncommon even with them. For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Cameroon delegation traveled with foodstuff from home and its own chefs,” Bayen explained.
“Now, if the Morocco delegation is going the extra mile to hire an entire hotel, use their own hotel staff and restrict access, it is easy to understand this had to do with health precautions linked to Covid-19.
Any conscious, cautious delegation should take such austere measures after all, if one member of the delegation contracts the virus, it could spread within the delegation and it could be exported back home. I would rather say Morocco are doing the right thing,” Bayen added.
It should be recalled that Morocco refused to relocate from Douala to a hotel in Limbe ahead of their semi final game druring the African Nations Championship (Chan) in Cameroon early last year due to security reasons.
The squad which has Soufiane Rahimi, the most valuable player in the 2020 Chan, have had at least two training sessions in Yaounde.
They will face four-time champions Ghana, Gabon and debutants Comoros in Group C at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde.
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