• FIFA CWC: El Amri dreaming of Madrid meeting

    (FIFA.com) Now enjoying his fourth year in charge of Moghreb Tetouan, Aziz El Amri has clearly found a club to his liking. And it is probably fair to say that the Moroccan side are equally thrilled with the arrangement, their coach having steered them to a pair of league titles in his first three campaigns.

    This season is set to be even more special for team and coach alike as Tetouan are gearing up to represent their country at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup. When they do, El Amri will become the first Moroccan tactician to lead a side at the tournament, a breakthrough event he is not taking lightly.

    "It's a huge honour for me to represent my colleagues and my compatriots," he told FIFA.com. "It's very rare to take part in this competition several times, and I hope our results will do the whole of Moroccan football proud."

    When El Amri was first appointed, Tetouan President Abdelmalek Abroun tasked him with the mission of saving the club from relegation. The newcomer did just that before setting his sights much higher, and he quickly went on to show that Tetouan could rival Morocco's leading powers by masterminding a pair of title wins.

    His spell at the helm has not been one long fairy tale, however, and there have been genuine tests along the way – not least when 14 players went on strike in 2011 to protest unpaid salaries. That forced El Amri to integrate the club's youth side into the first-team ranks, but the strike soon proved to be a blessing in disguise as the youngsters took Tetouan to their maiden championship crown after a 90-year wait in 2012.

    Buoyed by that triumph, the club opted to retain their faith in youth, a strategy that nonetheless brings challenges of its own. "We have eight young players, which has advantages and drawbacks," said El Amri. "The positives are enthusiasm and motivation, with the players giving their maximum without worrying about their salaries. The major negative is obviously their lack of experience, which can cause them to make big mistakes. I hope we'll manage to avoid that.

    "I think my team will perform very well," he added. "My players will feel a rush of adrenaline when they take part in this prestigious competition in a magnificent stadium filled to the rafters. Our motto is: 'Whatever the colour of your shirt, Tetouan will have you for dinner.'"

    The club's fans are meanwhile hoping their side can match the achievement of Raja Casablanca, who progressed all the way to the final last year. El Amri is aiming high as well, but he is quick to point out that each team has its own pedigree and that merely qualifying for the Club World Cup is a feat worth celebrating.

    Our motto is: 'Whatever the colour of your shirt, Tetouan will have you for dinner.'

    Moghreb Tetouan coach Aziz El Amri

    "Moghreb and Raja don't have anything like the same history or trophy cabinet," he explained. "That doesn't mean we'll be competing as tourists, going there to take photos of the other teams. We'll play for the honour of our town, our supporters and the country."

    Top-quality opponents

    With that goal in mind, El Amri has been paying close attention to Auckland City, the club his charges are due to face on 10 December in the opening match at Morocco 2014. He believes the New Zealand outfit have evolved significantly since they came up against Raja last year.

    "I recently saw a video of their team and I can tell you that they have changed completely. Football in New Zealand is renowned for the physical qualities of the players, like in rugby. This team plays an original kind of football, which combines the Anglo-Saxon style of crosses and headers with very good tactical organisation and lots of passes along the ground. They'll definitely cause us problems."

    Tetouan will look to create problems of their own by sticking with El Amri's beloved tiki-taka, the carousel-passing approach made famous by Barcelona. "I won't change my style, no matter how good our opponents are. It's thanks to that style that we won two league titles and reached the Club World Cup, all in spite of having a young team. Tiki-taka is spectacular and effective. For the last three years, we've dominated teams more experienced and richer than us. Moghreb Tetouan stand out because of our short passing and effectiveness in front of goal."

    El Amri is hoping those qualities will take his team far enough in the competition to meet Real Madrid, a year on from Raja's showpiece loss to Bayern Munich. "Everyone wants to face Real Madrid," he said. "But before that, we have three obstacles to overcome: Auckland City, ES Setif and San Lorenzo. It will be a long and difficult road, but if we can beat those three teams, we'll have the honour of taking on Real Madrid and all their international stars. We'll try to meet the challenge, even if our modest experience is no comparison to theirs."

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  • Press review: Mehdi Benatia Nominated for UEFA Team of the Year

    (Morocco world news) Rabat – Morocco’s National and FC Bayern Munich defender Mehdi Benatia has been nominated for the UEFA’s 40-strong shortlist team of the year along with eight other Bayern Munich players.

    Mehdi Benatia and Yaya Toure are the only the only two African players included in the 40-men shortlist for the prestigious UEFA.com award.

    Voting is open for the UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year 2014 poll. The general public have until 13.00CET on 6 January to cast their vote. They have to select their preferred formation before picking their starting XI from four goalkeepers, 12 defenders, 12 midfielders and 12 strikers.

    In the defenders category, Morocco’s Mehdia Benatia is competing with the world’s greatest defenders, such as Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Daniel Carvajal, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompan and Pablo Zabaleta, as well as 7 other defenders.

    After a successful season with Italy’s AS Rome, Mehdi Benatia moved to FC Bayern München to help shore up its defense, especially after the injury of Javi Martínez.

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  • Press review: Morocco Seeks To Play Friendlies with Argentina, Brazil and Colombia

    (morocco world news) Rabat – The Moroccan Royal Football Federation said that negotiations are underway regarding playing potential friendlies against teams from South America and Asia in the coming period.

    The move comes at a time the Moroccan national team might be out of continental action for the next four years due to sanctions by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

    CAF barred Morocco from hosting the upcoming African Cup of Nations following requests to postpone the tournament over fears of the Ebola Virus.

    Speaking to sports website Hesport, Youssef Hajob, who is in charge of the national team’s pre-competition matches, said that talks are underway to play friendly matches with national teams from South America such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, as well as from Asia, such as Japan and South Korea.

    Hajob added that they are only awaiting CAF’s final decision regarding the sanctions against Morocco in order to start working on a new program for the national team accordingly, and to sign contracts with the teams that will be available to play friendlies with.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Fiorentina Look To Cut Ties With El Hamdaoui

    Fiorentina are set to end the contracts of Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui and Ukrainian winger Oleksandr Iakovenko when the upcoming January transfer window opens.

    El Hamdaoui and Iakovenko both have not been able to crack Fiorentina`s starting 11 even with the injuries of Italian strikers Giuseppe Rossi and Federico Bernardeschi.

    According to La Nazione, Fiorentina will look to first try and loan both players out in January, but if there is not enough interest, both player’s contracts will be terminated and each will be free to sign with whom they want.

    Both El Hamdaoui and Iakovenko have not made an appearance this season for the Viola and do not seem to be part of head coach Vincenzo Montella’s plans in the future.

    http://forzaitalianfootball.com/2014/11/fiorentina-look-to-cut-ties-with-two-players-in-january/

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  • Press review: Former Bahraini Official Opposes Morocco’s Participation in Gulf Cup

    Marrakech- Sheikh Isa bin Rashid Al Khalifa, the former president of the Bahrain Football Association said that he does not support the idea that Morocco participates in the Gulf Cup of Nations.

    The former president’s objection comes as a response to a claim made by Yousef Yaqoob Al Serkal, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federation, who said he would welcome the participation of the Moroccan national team in the Gulf Cup.

    Sheikh Issa rejected the idea of allowing the Moroccan and Jordanian teams to take part in the Gulf Cup of Nations, stating that it’s better to maintain the competition exclusively for the people of the Gulf, according to le360.

    He added that in case Morocco and Jordan were allowed to participate in the Gulf Cup of Nations, this would open the door for other countries to make a request to participate in the competition.

    The Gulf Cup takes place every two years with participation of the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman) in addition to Iraq and Yemen. The 22th second edition of the Gulf Cup of Nations is taking place in Saudi Arabia from 13 to 26 November.

    http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/11/144329/former-bahraini-official-opposes-moroccos-participation-in-gulf-cup/

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  • Morocco 2 Zimbabwe 1: Assaidi, Iajour ensure comeback win

    By Sportal

    Morocco came from a goal down to see off Zimbabwe 2-1 on Sunday and end a tumultuous 2014 on a positive note.

    CAF opted to strip Morocco of Africa Cup of Nations hosting duties and remove them from the competition due to a row over the dates of the competition amid fears over the spread of the Ebola virus.

    However, Badou Zaki's men picked up a 6-1 win over Benin in midweek to lift the gloom around the national side - a theme that continued on Sunday.

    Zaki's charges extended their winning run to five matches as two goals in 14 second-half minutes turned the game on its head in Agadir.

    Zimbabwe debutant Macauley Bonne had given the visitors the lead when he opened his international account 18 minutes in.

    However, Stoke City winger Oussama Assaidi levelled for Morocco shortly after the hour when he sidefooted home from distance after some slick build-up play.

    The turnaround was complete when Mouhcine Iajour tucked home the winner from the spot after the striker had been brought down in the box.

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  • NT: Morocco beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in a friendly

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in a friendly played at Agadir Stadium on Sunday. Morocco goals were scored by Oussama Assaidi and Mohcine Iajour (pen.

    Final Whistle!

    See all goals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf1MhZnm9Zw

    5 minutes of additional time

    Achakir comes in for El Khaliqi 86'

    Achenteh comes in for Lazaar 85'

    81' Feddal comes in for El Ahmadi

    79' Goal Mohcen Iajour from penalty spot and 2-1 for Morocco. See goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aus3EasvgJQ

    75' Labyad comes in for El Kaddouri

    63' Oussama Assaidi nets home for Morocco against Zimbabwe and the score is 1-1. See goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5cYysTT2Yw

    55' Mohcine Iajour comes in for HamdAllah

    46' Oussama Assaidi comes in for Chehchouh

    Zimbabwe opened the scoring in the 18' minute. 0-1 is the score. See goal video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv-_2FP_sDc

    Match is underway!

    MOROCCO starting line up vs Zimbabwe:

    Bounou-DaCosta-El Adoua-El Khaliqi-Lazaar-El Ahmadi-Ait Ben Ider-El Kaddouri-Chehchouh-Chamakh-HamdAllah

    Coach: Badou Zaki

    Location: Agadir

    Competition: Friendly

    Kick off: 20h00 GMT, 21h00 CET

    Live streaming video links: http://watchfomny.net/A-Tv-Maroc.php

    http://www.wiziwig.tv/broadcast.php?matchid=291512&part=sports

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  • Live Score: Morocco vs Zimbabwe

    (TheAtlasLions.com)

    MOROCCO starting line up vs Zimbabwe:

    Bounou-DaCosta-El Adoua-El Khaliqi-Lazaar-El Ahmadi-Ait Ben Ider-El Kaddouri-Chehchouh-Chamakh-HamdAllah

    Coach: Badou Zaki

    Location: Agadir

    Competition: Friendly

    Kick off: 20h00 GMT, 21h00 CET

    Live streaming video links: http://watchfomny.net/A-Tv-Maroc.php

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  • Press review: Caf bans Morocco for two Afcon’s

    Morocco will be barred from the next two Africa Cup of Nations as punishment for refusing to host the 2015 edition in January-February, Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou said on Saturday.

    “We are going to stick to the rules, that means elimination from the next two Nations Cups,” Hayatou told France's L'Equipe sports daily.

    “On top of that there will be the financial and moral damages to calculate.”

    Morocco are facing a 20 million dollar (16 million euros) fine for refusing to host the 2015 Cup in its scheduled January 17-February 8 slot over fears of the spread of the deadly Ebola epidemic to the popular tourist destination, Morocco's Le Matin newspaper suggested this week.

    The north African state had called for the Cup to be postponed, but organisers CAF rejected their request, stripping them of their position as hosts and barring them from playing in the continental showcase.

    Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, which co-hosted the 2012 edition with Gabon, were named as Morocco's replacement as hosts for the troubled 2015 tournament on Friday.

    Aside from the former Spanish colony in west Africa who now qualify automatically, three countries are assured of their place in the troubled 2015 Cup - Tunisia, Algeria and Cape Verde Islands.

    There are 12 qualifiers scheduled for Saturday with defending champions Nigeria needing a victory in Congo Brazzaville to have a realistic chance of qualifying. AFP

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  • Morocco locals NT: Morocco held to goalless draw by Rwanda

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco locals national team was held to a goalless draw against Rwanda in a friendly played at Fes Stadium yesterday.

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