• Moroccans Abroad: Hakimi only sixth African player to score for Real Madrid

    (BBC Sport) Morocco international Achraf Hakimi hailed an unforgettable first goal for Real Madrid as he became the first Moroccan and sixth African to score for the European giants.

    Defender Achraf, 19, is enjoying a breakthrough season with Real Madrid and marked his fourth league appearance with a goal in the 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla on Saturday at the Bernabeu.

    "A match that I will never forget. My first goal with Real Madrid and a great victory for the team. Very happy," he said on Twitter.

    He becomes only the sixth African to join an illustrious list of Real Madrid scorers, alongside Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Javier Balboa (Equatorial Guinea), Mahamadou Diarra (Mali), Michael Essien (Ghana) and Geremi (Cameroon.)

    Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o and Cape Verde's Valmiro Lopes Rocha both failed to score for the 12-time European champions in an official match.

    Back in October, Achraf made his debut against Espanyol, becoming the first Moroccan to play for Real Madrid and the youngest player in La Liga this season - at 18 years 10 months 27 days.

    He also started for Zinedine Zidane's side in this season's home and away Champions League match against Tottenham Hotspur.

    Born in Madrid and eligible for Spain, Achraf represented Morocco at youth levels before Atlas Lions manager Herve Renard handed him a senior debut in a 4-0 friendly win against Canada in October 2016.

    Achraf made four appearances and scored once in the 6-0 annihilation of Mali as Morocco sealed 2018 World Cup qualification.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: ACHRAF HAKIMI MAKES HISTORY IN REAL MADRID'S DEMOLITION OF SEVILLA

    (Goal.com) The Morocco international got off the mark in Saturday’s La Liga encounter to set a record for the Santiago Bernabeu outfit

    Achraf Hakimi became the first Moroccan to score for Real Madrid in La Liga after he netted in their 5-0 rout of Sevilla on Saturday.

    With the defensive quartet of Sergio Ramos, Daniel Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Casemiro ruled out of the clash due to suspension and injuries, the defender took the stage to make history at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    The 19-year-old who made his debut for Zinedine Zidane’s side against Espanyol on October 1, found the back of the net in his fourth league appearance this campaign to seal an emphatic triumph for Los Blancos.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKzI72Lpflo

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  • La Liga: Achraf Hakimi scores his first Madrid goal!

    A day to remember for the young Moroccan Achraf Hakimi as he grabbed his first Madrid goal, but just as important was an early challenge to prevent Muriel a one-on-one at 1-0 with the game still in the balance

    https://news.google.com/news/video/AKCpMrABMyU/dRZ6e1twc66Xs8MAGgN--NmMkzcuM?hl=en-GB&gl=GB&ned=uk

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  • CWC: Pachuca edges Casablanca in extra time at Club World Cup

    (AP) Victor Guzman scored in the second half of extra time to give Mexican club Pachuca a 1-0 win over 10-man Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the Club World Cup on Saturday.

    The midfielder finally broke the deadlock at Zayed Sports City Stadium in the 112th minute.

    Casablanca’s Brahim Nakach was sent off in the 69th minute.

    Pachuca faces Brazil’s Gremio in the semifinals on Tuesday.

    Later Saturday, Japan’s Urawa Reds plays host club Al Jazira to decide which team will meet Real Madrid in the last four on Wednesday.

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  • NT: Hervé Renard and FRMF to Discuss World Cup Lineup

    (Morocco World News) Rabat – The coach of Morocco’s national football team, Herve Renard, is set to meet with Fouzi Lekjaa, the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and the National Selection Committee, next week in order to discuss its lineup for the next phase of the 2018 World Cup.

    The Moroccan team will to travel in March to a European country which has not yet been determined. According to Moroccan daily newspaper Al Ahdath Al Maghribia, the Atlas Lions will visit one of the following countries: France, Turkey, England, Italy, Netherlands, or Turkey.

    The newspaper added that Morocco will play two friendlies against an Asian and a European team ahead of the 2018 World Cup’s second round.

    The friendlies will be followed by a training camp, scheduled to take place at the sports center of Maamoura. The Atlas Lions will then travel to Switzerland for a final training camp before heading to Saint Petersburg, Russia for their first game against Iran, which is scheduled to take place on June 15.

    The choice of Switzerland for the final training session is due to the fact that the country’s climate resembles that of Russia, added the newspaper.

    In an interview with French sports outlet L’Équipe, Renard said that his team needs to defeat their future World Cup opponents – Iran, Spain, and Portugal – in order to develop.

    “If we want to grow, we have to beat the best one day. If we are not able to do so, we will stay at the same level,” said Renard. He said that it is “up to us to make sure to pass this round. Let us be lucid, but ambitious.”

    The Frenchman added that he is not content with simply qualifying for this phase. “If the idea is to be satisfied with being there, it does not make sense.”

    The team’s manager has confessed that the Group B is not an easy one. After the final draw, the coach told the press that his team is going to play against monsters.

    “These are two countries that are not far from Morocco. The championship of Spain is something that people cannot miss in Morocco,” said Renard. “It is an honor for Morocco to play against the Spanish team, which is very strong, and Portugal, the European champion.”

    After the final draw, which took place in Moscow on December 1, Morocco was placed in Group B along with Iran, Spain, and Portugal. Many Moroccan and international football figures named the group B “ the deadly group” in the 2018 World Cup.

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  • CWC 2017: Morocco meets Mexico in transatlantic clash

    (FIFA.com) Abu Dhabi provides the venue for the opening match of the second round of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 on Saturday, with CONCACAF Champions League winners and tournament regulars Pachuca taking on new boys Wydad Athletic Club, who will be hoping to build on the success enjoyed by African sides in previous editions.

    The prize for the winners is a place in the first semi-final, against Gremio of Brazil, who have already arrived in the United Arab Emirates in preparation for the game.

    The match

    Pachuca vs Wydad Athletic Club

    Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi

    Saturday, 9 December, 17:00 (local time)

    What you need to know

    Having missed out on a place in the Mexican league championship play-offs, Pachuca tuned up for UAE 2017 with a storming run in the Copa MX, the final of which will be played on 21 December. Though they have been without competitive football in the last two weeks, Los Tuzos have a lot going for them, with successful coach Diego Alonso fashioning an attack-minded side spearheaded by the free-scoring Victor Guzman and provider-in-chief Jonathan Urretaviscaya.

    Opponents Wydad Athletic Club have good reason to be optimistic as they make their FIFA Club World Cup debut, having won the CAF Champions League for the first time in 25 years and doing so against the mighty Al Ahly of Egypt. The Moroccans have arrived in the UAE in fine form, thanks to the goals of front man Mohammed Aoulad, who has scored four of their last seven, and the effectiveness of the tandem formed by Walid El Karti and Achraf Bencharki, who both played a central role in the club’s continental title win.

    The stat

    4 - Pachuca are taking part in their fourth FIFA Club World Cup. When they step out against Wydad, Los Tuzos will move past America and Monterrey as the CONCACAF side with most appearances in the competition.

    The words

    “We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’ve come prepared. We’ve not had any games over these last two weeks but we’ve worked really hard and we hope things work out for us.”

    Joaquin Martinez, Pachuca

    “The match against Pachuca is going to be really tough, like every game at the FIFA Club World Cup. We haven’t come just to take part. We need to perform at our very best to show how good Moroccan football is.”

    Salaheddine Saidi, Wydad Athletic Club

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  • NT: Munir confirms Morocco desire

    (Football Espana) One-time Spain international Munir El Haddadi has confirmed that “I’d like to play for Morocco at the World Cup.”

    Munir has Moroccan heritage on his father’s side, but his participation with the African nation at the World Cup next summer hinges on whether FIFA will give him special dispensation, having already represented Spain in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

    “I’d like to play for Morocco at the World Cup,” the Alaves forward told EFE.

    The news agency also paraphrases him as saying he was told by the Moroccan FA he had “chances to play”, despite already picking up a Spain cap, and that it was doing “everything possible” to call him up.

    The 22-year-old left Barcelona for Alaves in a second loan spell over the summer and has scored three goals in 13 appearances this season.

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  • NT: Atlas Lions on the march

    (FIFA.com) Morocco back at the World Cup following a 20-year absence

    Atlas Lions have risen to their highest position in the FIFA Ranking since 2008

    Head coach Herve Renard has masterminded the turnaround in fortunes

    Saturday 11 November 2017 will go down as a special day in the history of Moroccan football. It was on this date that the Atlas Lions clinched their place at the FIFA World Cup™ after 20 years of frustration, thanks to a 2-0 win over Côte d’Ivoire.

    The achievement also saw the Moroccan national team climb eight places in November’s FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, with the country currently occupying its highest position since 2008.

    Morocco’s hot streak

    Morocco’s fine recent form owes much to the hard work put in under head coach Herve Renard, who took charge of the team following spells with Ghana, as assistant to Claude Le Roy, and Zambia. Renard is also a two-time winner of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, with both the Chipolopolo and Côte d’Ivoire.

    This latest bounce in the ranking comes on the back of a series of impressive results, including a 6-0 win over Mali and a Khaled Boutaib-inspired triumph against Gabon. Then there was the aforementioned success away to Côte d’Ivoire, which booked Mehdi Benatia and his team-mates’ place at Russia 2018.

    Three key results in the Russia 2018 qualification campaign

    Morocco 6-0 Mali (1 September 2017)

    Morocco 3-0 Gabon (7 October 2017)

    Côte d’Ivoire 0-2 Morocco (11 November 2017)

    In the aftermath of the victory over Côte d’Ivoire in Abidjan, Renard said: "My main target with Morocco was to qualify for the World Cup. We were a long way off this level two years ago but, thanks to the rules that we’ve set and the good understanding between the players, we’ve managed to make real progress on the pitch."

    Making a mark at the finals

    The French coach’s thoughts have now turned to the daunting challenge that lies ahead for the Atlas Lions in Russia. Morocco have been drawn in the same group as IR Iran, Portugal and Spain, and they know that more positive results will see them rise even further up the FIFA Ranking.

    Following the draw in Moscow, Herve Renard told FIFA.com: "After a 20-year absence, the Moroccan team has landed in a tricky group. We know that standards are high at the World Cup. We’re going to play against the European champions and Spain – who were the team to avoid from the second pot – not to mention Iran too."

    "We need to focus on qualifying for the Round of 16, and to not be satisfied with simply taking part. In 1986, Morocco beat Portugal. We have to go into the tournament with determination and confidence."

    Renard’s Morocco side have all the necessary tools to make a mark in Russia, including a resolute defence that did not concede a single goal in the final qualification round and a prolific attack that netted 11 times in six matches.

    Morocco’s fixtures in Russia

    Morocco-Iran (15 June, Saint Petersburg Stadium, 18:00 local time)

    Portugal-Morocco (20 June, Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, 15:00 local time)

    Spain-Morocco (25 June, Kaliningrad Stadium, 20:00 local time)

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Moroccan center back leads Bianconeri to a pair of shutouts and adds his first goal of the season

    (Juventus.com) November 2017 is surely a month that Media Benatia will never forget.

    The Morocco captain led his country to their first FIFA World Cup berth since 1998 while not allowing a single goal in six games of the final round of CAF qualifying.

    He then followed that up with a pair of scintillating performances for the Bianconeri marshalling the backline to a shutout of Barcelona before putting in another hard shift in a 3-0 win over Crotone during which Benatia also found the back of the net for the first time this season.

    Benatia will be given the November EA Sports MVP of the Month award prior to Saturday's match vs Inter by a lucky Juventus Member.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Ziyech and Benatia primed to crack the FC 100 in 2018

    Ed Dove, KweséESPN

    Five African players have been included in the ESPN FC 2017, but which of the continent's star men could be primed to feature in next year's version of the list?

    In this feature, KweséESPN presents five of the continent's emerging stars who we're tipping to crack the 100 in 12 months' time.

    Hakim Ziyech: Is there any African player in the world today who can run a match as easily - and with as much sophistication - as Ziyech?

    He stepped up comfortably to life at Ajax after being signed from FC Twente at the beginning to last term, going on to contribute 11 assists and seven goals as the Amsterdam giants ran Feyenoord close for the title.

    The technical qualities and capacity for invention demonstrated by the Morocco international in the Atlas Lions' 6-0 evisceration of Mali was one of the finest individual displays by an African player in 2017, and he was also outstanding in Ajax's recent 8-0 thumping of NAC Breda.

    When Ziyech controls the contest as he did - notably - in these two fixtures, he can appear to be unplayable, and the 24-year-old has the potential to be Africa's outstanding player at the World Cup.

    Medhi Benatia's stock has fallen in recent seasons following the high of 2014, when he was signed by Bayern Munich from AS Roma.

    Back in Italy last term on loan with Juventus, the Morocco international struggled to get into the team, and didn't always look comfortable when he did feature.

    There was, therefore, some surprise when Juve made the defender's loan deal permanent - for €17 million - this summer, although the centre-back has set about repaying that faith this term.

    He excelled in the Champions League stalemate with Barcelona, and also capped another magnificent performance with a goal as Juventus beat Crotone 3-0 four days later.

    If he can continue in this vein, he could help the Old Lady forget about the departed Leonardo Bonucci, while a strong World Cup showing with Morocco could see him crack the list.

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