By The Atlas Lions, Nov 22 2015 8:00PM
Gazelec Ajaccio striker Khalid Boutaib hopes his recent performances in the French top-flight will earn him a belated international call-up for Morocco.
The 28-year-old, who was born in France, is eligible to play for the Atlas Lions because his parents are Moroccan
Boutaib has never won an international cap at any level in his ten-year career despite a decent goal scoring record - mostly in the French lower leagues.
Boutaib, who scored for newly promoted Ajaccio in their 2-1 away win at Bastia on Sunday, is confident a good season in France will press his claim for a Morocco chance.
"If I keep scoring goals like that on a regular basis it will help my case," Boutaib told BBC Sport.
"I didn't stand a chance in the past but my all-round game is pretty solid now, so you never give up hope.
"I've probably got a better chance of being noticed now I'm playing at the top level in France."
Boutaib says his confidence stems from the fact that several players born outside Morocco - notably Marouane Chamakh, Mbark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi and Nordin Amrabat - all managed to represent the North Africans.
The Atlas Lions are flying in the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers and have already secured a spot in the final stage of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
So Boutaib, who only made his professional debut in August 2012, admits he has his work cut out to earn a call-up or break into the star-studded Morocco squad.
"Of course it will be tough [to break in] when you look at what they have achieved lately," he said.
"Morocco has talented players playing all over the world but that will not stop me from believing I could do a job for my country.
"I was born in France but I am one hundred percent Moroccan, so it would be a great honour.
"At the moment I will continue to focus on my club career and if that's all going well then international football could come with it."
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 22 2015 5:22PM
Mounir El Hamdaoui scored and set up a goal in AZ's 3-1 win at home to Heerenveen in the Eredivisie.
The away side took an early lead through Mitchell te Vrede, who blasted the ball beyond Gino Coutinho after a good pass from Luciano Slagveer. AZ pulled level after El Hamdaoui hit the post from a Rajko Brezancic cross but Vincent Janssen was on hand to put the rebound into the open goal.
El Hamdaoui then put his side ahead just before half time with his first goal since his return to Alkmaar after Janssen put the 31-year-old through on goal, and the former Fiorentina man took it round the goalkeeper before placing it into an open net.
The Moroccan international caused more trouble minutes later after his run in behind allowed him to pull the ball back for Janssen, but the forward's strike was well saved by Erwin Mulder. Janssen made it three after the hour mark when, after Alireza Jahanbakhsh kept the ball in play out wide, he pulled the ball back for the Dutchman and his deflected effort gave Mulder no chance.
AZ move into eighth while Heerenveen stay 12th in the Eredivisie table.
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 22 2015 5:17PM
(AP) Deyverson scored twice in Levante's 3-0 win at Sporting Gijon to move the team off the bottom of the Spanish league on Sunday.
The Brazilian opened the scoring in the 18th minute and added another just before halftime after Zouhair Feddal had doubled the lead in the 27th.
It was Levante's first win in three matches under new coach Joan Ferrer.
Later Sunday, Atletico Madrid seeks a win at Real Betis to move ahead of crosstown rival Real Madrid and take over second place after leader Barcelona routed Madrid 4-0 on Saturday.
Villarreal also hosts Eibar, while Athletic Bilbao visits Granada.
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 20 2015 9:19PM
(FIFA.com) FIFA and CAF have determined that the draw for the third round of African Zone qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ will be held at CAF headquarters in Cairo on 24 June 2016.
This stage of the preliminary competition will involve 20 teams drawn into five four-team groups, with sides playing each other home and away on a round-robin basis. All five group winners will qualify automatically for Russia 2018.
This is the latest step in a qualifying campaign that began for Africa in October 2015 with 53 nations taking part. Round 1 was contested by the 26 lowest-ranked member associations, the 13 winners from which went on to a second stage against the confederation's remaining 27 nations.
Just 20 teams now remain from that second round, all of whom will be eagerly awaiting this Round 3 draw, the procedures for which - including pots and seeded teams - will be announced in due course.
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 19 2015 5:07PM
Morocco national team assistant coach Hafeedh Abdul Sadek has said Amavubi will pose the toughest challenge in their group at the 2016 Africa National Championship (CHAN) finals tournament slated for 16 January to February 7 in Rwanda.
The Lions of the Atlas are in Group A along with host Rwanda as well as Cote d'Ivoire and Gabon. This group will be based at Amahoro National Stadium.
"They are playing at home and they will have big support but we will do all we can to secure wins in every match we play including against Gabon, Ivory Cost and Rwanda.
"We have been drawn in a very tough group, but it doesn't make a big difference for us. With our spirit and determination we can qualify to the next round," Sadek said.
He added that, "In the qualifiers, we defeated Libya and Tunisia and they are both former champions. Morocco has a base of good players whom we will rely on in the final tournament."
Group B, which will be based in Huye, comprise of The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Cameroon and Angola, while Tunisia, Guinea, Niger and Nigeria are in Group C and will be based at Kigali Regional Stadium. Group D, which will play in Rubavu, is made up of Zambia, Uganda, Mali and Zimbabwe
The biennial tournament is designed exclusively for players who feature in their domestic leagues. The DRC won the first edition, while Tunisia took the second while last year's edition was won by Libya, who won't defend it after failing to qualify.
Rwanda is the fourth country to host Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) after Cote d'Ivoire in 2009, Sudan in 2011 and South Africa 2014.
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 18 2015 2:38PM
Five-time World Cup finalists Nigeria could well draw arch-rivals Ghana and Cameroon in the group phase of the qualifying tournament for the 2018 World Cup should the FIFA rankings be mainly used to seed teams.
No date has been fixed yet for the draw for this final round of the World Cup qualifiers, which will be played on league basis, but speculations are rife that it could be before the end of the year.
Currently, Nigeria are 59th ranked team in the world and on this count, they will fall in pot 3 of seeds along with Egypt (57), Mali (63), Uganda (68) and Zambia (71).
Pot 1 will have the continent’s top teams Cote d’Ivoire (22), Algeria (26), Ghana (30), Cape Verde (32) and Senegal (39).
Pot 2 will be made up of Tunisia (41), Cameroon (51), Congo Brazzaville (52), Guinea (53) and DR Congo (55).
The last pot of 20 qualifiers could then be Gabon (73), South Africa (75), Morocco (79), Burkina Faso (93) and Libya (113).
A team from each pot will be picked out to form a qualifying group of five teams with the overall winners advancing to the World Cup in Russia.
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 16 2015 2:09PM
(Ahram Online) Despite their 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea in the second leg of the qualifiers, Morocco advanced into the final round as they won the first-leg at home 2-0 claiming a 2-1 win on aggregate
Morocco's national assistant coach Mustapha Hadji praised the performance of his team's players after reaching the group stage of the African World Cup qualifiers on Sunday.
Despite their 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea in the second leg of the qualifiers, Morocco advanced into the final round as they won the first-leg at home 2-0 claiming a 2-1 win on aggregate.
"We still have a big mission in the group stage despite the qualification," Hadji was quoted as saying on Morocco website elbotola after the game.
"Today's game with Equatorial Guinea was not easy despite scoring two goals in Morocco as we faced a tough opponent who played well in the second leg to qualify," Hadji added.
"I thank Morocco's players for their performance in the game as they defended well to save our nets as well as to reach the group stage," the Morocco assistant coach added.
The group stage of the African World Cup qualifiers will start in October 2016.
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 15 2015 5:43PM
Host Rwanda have been handed a tricky draw for next year’s Orange African Nations Championship (CHAN) Rwanda 2016.
The host nation was drawn in Group A alongside Gabon, MOROCCO and Cote d’Ivoire for the fourth edition of the tournament designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues.
Winners of the maiden edition in 2009, DR Congo are housed in Group B with 2011 losing finalists Angola, Cameroon and Ethiopia.
Group C has 2011 champions, Tunisia, Nigeria, Niger and debutants Guinea with Zimbabwe, one of two teams to have competed at every edition of the CHAN since its birth in 2009, in Group D with Mali, Uganda and Zambia.
The draw was held on Sunday, 15 November 2015 at the plush Serena Hotel in Kigali, with CAF Secretary General Hicham El Amrani conducting the draw with the assistance of Rwanda captain Haruna Niyonzima and head coach of the Rwanda women’s national team Marie Grace Umuntu.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame chaired the function, whilst CAF 2 nd Vice President Almamy Kabele Camara led the delegation from the continent’s soccer governing body.
Kabele Camara is also president of the Organising Committee of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
The final tournament of the Orange CHAN 2016 will take place from 16 January to 7 February 2016 in Rwanda.
Group A will be based at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, Group B in Butare, Group C at the Nyamirambo Stadium, also in Kigali with Gisenyi hosting Group D.
Results of the draw
A - Rwanda, Gabon, MOROCCO, Cote d'Ivoire
B - DR Congo, Angola. Cameroon, Ethiopia
C - Tunisia, Nigeria Niger, Guinea
D - Zimbabwe, Mali, Uganda, Zambia
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 14 2015 10:54PM
Morocco are through to the Group stage of the WC2018 qualifiers despite a horrible display and defeat 1-0 (Agg 2-1) against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.
90+2 Feddal booked
3 minutes of additional time
90' Save Mohamedi
87' Save Mohamedi
83' Brahim Naqqach comes in for Faysal Fajr
80' Save Mounir Mohamedi
76' Ziyech comes in for El Arabi
66' el Kaddouri shoots in the hands of the goalkeeper
60' El Kaddouri booked
50' Good save Mohamedi
Second half underway!
37' El Kaddouri comes in for Tighadouini
36' El Arabi caught offside
31' Fajr shoots wide
28' Chafik shoots in the hands of the goalkeeper
26' Chafik booked
13' Eq Guinea Open the scoring 1-0 against Morocco in the 14' minute from a well placed header by Engonga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhB1dk23dDU
Match is underway!
Match: Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Morocco
Competition: World Cup 2018 Qualifiers
Morocco starting lineup vs Eq. Guinea
Mohamedi-Chafik-Benatia (C)-Feddal-Lazaar-El Adoua-Achchakir-Tghadouini-Fajr-El Arabi-Bammou
Coach: Badou Zaki
Location: Bata, Equatorial Guinea
Kickoff: Sunday 15 Nov, 15h00 GMT, 16h00 CET
Live streaming Video: http://www.stream2watch.co/live-tv/us/bein-sports-live-stream
By The Atlas Lions, Nov 13 2015 7:03PM
Morocco will be confident of securing passage to the next stage of 2018 World Cup qualification when they take on Equatorial Guinea in Bata on Sunday.
The return leg of the teams’ second round tie will be played at Estadio de Bata, with kick-off set for 17h00 CAT.
The Atlas Lions claimed a 2-0 win in the first leg in Agadir on Thursday, with Youssef El Arabi and Yacine Bammou scoring the goals.
That the North Africans won the game despite playing the second half with 10 men following the dismissal of Adil Karrouchi emphasises their dominance, though the defender will be missing for Sunday’s match due to suspension.
This puts Badou Ezzaki’s side firmly in control of the tie and will allow them to sit back in Bata and look to hit the hosts on the break.
For Nzalang Nacional, their hopes of reaching the next round now depend on them being able to mount a comeback in front of their own fans.
The demonstrated their strength at home by reaching the semifinals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations as hosts, but this task is an even tougher one.
Equatorial Guinea will need the likes of captain Emilio Nsue and attacker Javier Balboa to be at their best if they are to overturn the deficit against Morocco.
Zambian official Janny Sikazwe will take charge of the game in Bata.
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