Morocco confident of surprising Zimbabwe in Gold Cup opener

Morocco are confident they can pull off a surprise when they travel to Harare to face Zimbabwe in the opening clash of their Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign on Saturday.

The North Africans are seeking to win a place at the Rugby World Cup for the first time, but will be underdogs against more established nations such as Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya. All matches in this year's Gold Cup are available on Kwesé Sports 1.

Morocco were a second-tier African nation last year, but according to forwards' coach Gasni Kouider, are ready to take the next step.

"It's interesting for us because we are outsiders. We were playing in the Silver Cup last year and now we are in Gold Cup. It is very interesting for us and that can give us an edge over Zimbabwe," Kouider was quoted by The Herald.

"We have prepared well for the match against Zimbabwe but I believe the pressure is more on them than us since this is only our first match in the Gold Cup and we are playing away from home.

"But we can use that to our advantage since we will not be under any pressure. We have physically and mentally conditioned our players and I am confident they will deliver.

"We have many good players in the team who can perform on any day."

Only the top side in the six-team Gold Cup competition is guaranteed a place in next year's World Cup in Japan, but for Morocco -- coached by Frenchman Pierre Chadebech -- it is also about preserving their status in the elite African competition.

"We are outsiders but we are going to see how it will go. We will see where we stand as we play Zimbabwe. We will try to win," he said.

"We know that we are coming from the Silver Cup and we will have to try and protect our status in the Gold Cup. We will take each game as it comes and we are also looking forward to qualifying for the World Cup."