Key midfielder Sofiane Boufal pulled out of Morocco’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday because of injury, joining influential playmaker Younes Belhanda on the sidelines.

Southampton star Boufal, 23, had been at a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, where Morocco were preparing for a friendly on Monday against Finland.

“Sofiane Boufal left the camp in Al-Ain this morning after the confirmation of his injury and his inability to take part in the African Cup,” said a statement from the Moroccan football federation, which did not provide details of the injury.

“He will be replaced by another player whose name will be announced later.”

Boufal, who joined Southampton from Lille in France last summer, was seen as a crucial part of the Moroccan squad after Belhanda suffered a fractured toe just before Christmas which ruled him out for up to six weeks.

Morocco, whose only triumph in the Cup of Nations came in 1976, are in Group C for the tournament that begins in Gabon on January 14.

They will open their campaign against DR Congo on January 16 before also facing Togo and the Ivory Coast.

Morocco are also without Watford’s Noureddine Amrabat and Oussama Tannane of Saint-Etienne due to injury.



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