Morocco vs Liberia Africa Cup of Nations qualifier postponed after devastating earthquake

Morocco vs Liberia Africa Cup of Nations qualifier postponed after devastating earthquake

Morocco’s final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia on Saturday has been postponed after the devastating earthquake that rocked the country.

At least 1,037 people have died after the 6.8-magnitude quake struck in the High Atlas mountains late on Friday night, with a further 1,204 reported to be injured - 721 of them critically.

That death toll is expected to rise further, with Morocco’s Interior Ministry reporting on Saturday morning that the fatalities have mostly occurred in Marrakech and five provinces near the quake’s epicentre. Rescuers continue to work to reach survivors in the rubble and access remote mountain areas.

Morroco’s men’s national football team had been due to face Liberia in their final Group K Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Agadir on Saturday evening, though that game has now been called off following the tragedy. Agadir is a city on Morocco’s southern Atlantic coast that lies around 258km from Marrakech.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation released a statement to confirm the postponement and offered their condolences to the victims of the deadly earthquake and their families.

"Following the earthquake that affected some regions in Morocco, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation announces the postponement of the match that was to take place on Saturday evening, September 9, 2023, between the national team and its Liberian counterpart, in the final round of the qualifiers for the 2024 African Cup of Nations - Côte d’Ivoire; Until a later time, in agreement with the Confederation of African Football,” the statement read.

“After this great injury, the national football family extends its deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and wishes a speedy recovery to all the injured.”

Morocco have already qualified for the next Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast, which was originally due to take place this summer before being pushed back to a January-February slot in 2024 amid weather concerns.

While Morocco and Liberia will not play on Saturday, it was reported that talks are ongoing over the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Congo and Gambia in Group G, which is due to take place in Marrakech on Sunday evening.