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Friday, 26 January 2024 22:02

Morocco's Regragui cleared for South Africa showdown.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui's two-match suspension at the Africa Cup of Nations has been dismissed after an appeal, his country's football federation said on Friday.

Regragui had been given a four-match ban, with two games suspended, and fined for bringing the competition into disrepute.

He had to watch his country's last group game against Zambia on Wednesday from the stands.

Regragui, who led his country to the World Cup semifinals in 2022, was involved in an on-field spat with Democratic Republic of Congo captain Chancel Mbemba at the end of their Group F match in San Pedro on Sunday.

The incident led to scuffles between opposing players and staff on the pitch and alleged fighting in the tunnel at the stadium, but out of public view.

Regragui had gone to shake Mbemba's hand at the end of the match but held on to it as he tried to remonstrate with the defender, who repeatedly tried to pull away before breaking loose.

That set off mayhem at the end of a 1-1 draw.

"He insulted me and my assistant on the sidelines before the end of the match," Regragui told reporters.

"And in the end, despite that, I went to shake his hand but also to ask him: 'Why are you talking to me like that?’. Then he looked away like he didn't want to shake my hand," he added.

"He claimed I had called him an idiot but I never said that. He should be a little honest with himself."

Morocco's football federation denounced the decision, but its appeal came only hours before the Zambia game at which Regragui was in the VIP stand, speaking to his bench as assistant Rachid Ben Mahmoud replaced him on the touchline.

"The CAF Appeal Committee has overturned the previously imposed suspension against the national team coach. This decision was made after considering the arguments presented by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF)," announced the Federation.

With the suspension lifted, Regragui will now be able to lead the Atlas Lions in their highly anticipated AFCON round of 16 match against South Africa on Tuesday.

Morocco secured their place in the knockout stage as the winners of Group F, accumulating 7 points by defeating Tanzania and Zambia, and drawing with DR Congo.