• CHAN 2018: Morocco drawn in Group A with Guinea, Sudan and Mauritania

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco CHAN Team has been drawn in Group A with Guinea, Sudan and Mauritania.

    Morocco group matches will be played at Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca.

    Here is the full draw:

    Group A (Casablanca)

    Morocco, Guinea, Sudan, Mauritania

    Group B (Marrakech)

    Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia

    Group C (Tangier)

    Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea

    Group D (Agadir)

    Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Burkina Faso

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Benatia returns to Juve after qualifying glory

    Back from qualifying for the World Cup with Morocco, Medhi Benatia turns his sights to the league: "In Genoa, we have to take the three points at all costs"

    Fresh off leading his native Morocco to the World Cup with a win over Ivory Coast, Medhi Benatia did not hide his satisfaction in speaking to Mediaset & Sky Sports.

    "It was the most beautiful moment of my career. I've won [the league] both with Bayern and Juve, but to captain Morocco and focusing on qualifying for so long, making my country happy was very nice. Even when I returned to Turin, everyone complimented me showing once again that we are all part of a family here.

    Buffon, of course, was happy for me as well, while I expressed my sorrow to him and the other Azzurri players. A World Cup without Italy doesn't look right...Gigi is a champion that has won so much, is our captain and he knows how to re-focus. There are many important goals still remaining this year and we must try to win as much as possible to make them forget their disappointment."

    SAMPDORIA AHEAD...

    Sunday's match away to a Sampdoria side that has not lost at home this year will be tricky for the Bianconeri, a fact that hasn't escaped Benatia.

    "It's always difficult to play in Genoa. Samp is doing a great job in Serie A this year and has a good team. They have a great pair of strikers in Quagliarella, who has scored wherever he plays, and Zapata who makes a real difference with his speed. We have to try to take the three points at all costs. We're entering a cycle of games that will say a lot about us and we have to deal with them with clarity and calm knowing that we can do great things when we play at a high level."

    THEN BARÇA

    After the Samp encounter, the focus immediately shifts to Barcelona at the Allianz Stadium with a round of 16 spot on the line for the victor.

    "We have to try to win to finish first in the group, but we can't look past Samp. Is Champions League an obsession for Juve? Well it is for all the big teams. Juve has played in two finals in three years, that's not a small thing. We want to win it, like everyone else, but we're not alone. Of course, we want to win it as a gift for our captain."

    http://www.juventus.com/en/news/news/2017/interview-medhi-benatia-pre-sampdoria-juventus-morocco.php

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Sofiane Boufal wins October Goal of the Month award for stunning solo effort in West Brom win

    Sofiane Boufal has claimed the October Goal of the Month award for his incredible solo goal in Southampton's 1-0 win over West Brom.

    The Morocco international struck an 85th minute winner at St Mary's with a moment of individual brilliance to sink Tony Pulis' side.

    Boufal took the ball round six opposing players after starting in his own half before finishing into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5092439/Southampton-s-Sofiane-Boufal-wins-Goal-Month.html#ixzz4yi3H4MWH

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  • Moroccans abroad: Walid Azaro nets brace as Al Ahly down Entag El Harby 2-1

    (KingFut.com) Young Moroccan forward Walid Azaro scored a brace as Al Ahly defeated Entag El Harby 2-1 in the ninth fixture of the Egyptian Premier League.

    Just 14 minutes into the game, Walid Azaro, 22, opened the scoreline with a perfect chip that found the back of Entag’s net, marking his first league goal with Al Ahly.

    The hosts barely threatened the Cairo giants defense. In the 38th minute, Al Ahly keeper Mohamed El-Shennawy, who featured for the entire game as first-choice Sherif Ekramy was rested, saved Omar Al-Said’s freekick without trouble.

    Al Ahly kept pushing in an attempt to make it 2-0 before the half time and five minutes later, they were close to doubling their lead. Ajayi intercepted the ball, sent an accurate pass to goalscorer Azaro, however, the Morrocan’s shot was cleared off the line by Entag’s defender.

    And as Al Ahly were pressing for a second goal, Entag made it 1-1 in the dying moments of the first half. Entag’s Omar Al-Said converted the ball home from the spot to equalise the scoreline following a foul from Mohamed Hany inside the box.

    With less than 15 minutes to full time, Azaro completed his brace to secure the three points for the Red Devils. The Moroccan forward volleyed the ball into the back of the net from a close range following a clever headed pass from Momen Zakaria.

    Entag came close to scoring again four minutes from time, however, El-Shennawy pulled out a great save to deny them, sealing a 2-1 victory for the Red Castle.

    Following the win, Al Ahly currently occupy the tenth league spot with ten points, having played just four games. Meanwhile, Entag sit in the 13th position with nine points from nine games.

    https://www.kingfut.com/2017/11/16/azarou-asc-win/

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  • PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Khalid Boutaib - Moroccan striker eager to prove a point in Russia

    Having successfully booked their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Morocco are desperate to prove their worth in Russia according to star forward Khalid Boutaib.

    The Atlas Lions enjoyed an almost flawless qualifying campaign, having gone all six games without conceding a goal. They run included three wins and three draws, but the North African's truly flexed their muscles with a 2-0 win over the Ivory Coast in Abidjan.

    Victory over the defending African Cup of Nations holders booked their place at the world showpiece for the first time in 20 years, having last featured at a World Cup in 1998.

    "We will do our best in the upcoming World Cup," Boutaib told France Football.

    "We have to prove our worth in Russia. The players will not head there to make tourism but to prove that we deserve to be in Russia," he concluded.

    The Turkey-based striker played an integral part in Morocco reaching the world showpiece, netting four goals in four games, including a hat-trick in a 3-0 thumping of Gabon in Casablanca.

    https://africanfootball.com//news/734926/PLAYER-SPOTLIGHT-Khalid-Boutaib-Moroccan-striker-eager-to-prove-a-point-in-Russia

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Amine Harit’s confidence continues to grow

    (schalke04.de) Amine Harit returned to Schalke with a large dose of euphoria stowed safely in his luggage after meeting up with Morocco over the international break. Now he must put the celebrations on hold to focus on the job in hand: facing Hamburger SV this weekend.

    The last time Morocco played in a World Cup finals Amine Harit was just one year old. Next summer, twenty years later, he will likely be involved after Morocco secured a 2-0 win against the Ivory Coast on the final day of qualifying, booking their place at next year’s tournament in Russia. “I have no words for how I’m feeling. It’s an unbelievable success for me, my family, and all Moroccans,” said Harit on his return to the Ruhr Valley.

    It was little more than two months ago that the French-born player decided to pledge his allegiance to ‘The Lions’. “At this point we were second in the table,” said Harit. “That we could turn things around so quickly is simply indescribable.” Despite watching the victory against the Ivory Coast from the bench, Harit was delighted with the result. “At first I was slightly disappointed. But the most important thing was that we achieved this victory.” Harit, who previously represented France at youth level, can’t begin to imagine what it will be like to play on football’s biggest stage: “Although I’ve already contested a World Cup at under-20 level, representing my country’s senior team will be a whole new experience.”

    For now, Harit is keeping his attention on more immediate concerns. “The next international break isn’t until March. Now I will concentrate fully on Schalke, because there are important weeks ahead. We want to further increase our confidence,” explained the 20-year-old, who recently overcame a minor problem sustained in the week leading up to the Freiburg match. “I feel 100% fit.”

    Next up, Schalke will face Hamburg (Sunday 19.11., 15:30 CET), a team who come to the VELTINS-Arena “urgently needing points,” according to Harit, who added: “It will be a difficult game. Even if some of the internationals start training later, we have to work meticulously to ensure we are well prepared.” Harit is looking for the team to build on their performances over the past few weeks. “At home, it’s always our aim to win. We want to continue our run.”

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  • NT: Munir El Haddadi hopes FIFA allows Morocco switch

    Barcelona forward Munir El Haddadi is hopeful that FIFA will grant him clearance to represent Morocco at the 2018 World Cup.

    Munir, 22, played for Spain at youth level and made a sole appearance with La Roja in September 2014 but the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has invited him to switch allegiances to the nation of his father's birth.

    "The Moroccan Football Federation contacted me and told me I had options to play for them," Munir, whose father is Moroccan, told Onda Cero radio.

    "I was very happy and I like the idea very much. We've been in contact and I gave them authorisation for them to begin the process.

    "They told me that they are going to do all they can for me to be with them."

    Munir would need FIFA clearance to represent Morocco as he played for Spain in official competition.

    He earned his solitary Spain cap at the age of 18 when he came on as a second-half substitute in a Euro 2016 qualifying win over Macedonia.

    FIFA's rules state: "Any player who has already participated in a match (either in full or in part) in an official competition of any category or any type of football for one association may not play an international match for a representative team of another association."

    Munir said: "FIFA have not contacted me yet. I've spoken to the [Morocco] national team coach [Herve Renard] and he says they are going to move everything along."

    The Madrid-born Munir says he does not regret playing for Spain.

    "I'm very grateful to the Spanish national team, they treated me well," he said.

    Munir is hopeful FIFA will allow him to switch from Spain to Morocco.

    "It would be beautiful and a dream come true to play at a World Cup," he said. "Morocco have a good team and they can do well."

    He has scored one goal and set up two more in nine league appearances since joining Alaves on a season-long loan from Barca this summer.

    Morocco will play at a World Cup for the first time since 1998 after beating Ivory Coast 2-0 on Nov. 11 to finish top of Group C. The Atlas Lions did not concede a goal in six qualifying games.

    http://www.espnfc.co.uk/morocco/story/3272519/spain-international-munir-el-haddadi-hopes-fifa-allows-morocco-switch

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  • NT: Herve Renard Set to Extend Contract with Atlas Lions

    By Morocco World News

    Rabat – After leading a marvellous season with the Atlas Lions, Morocco’s football team coach Herve Renard is expected to extend his contract until 2022, according to some local media outlets.

    The Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), however, has not said anything yet regarding Renard’s contract extension. Currently, Renard’s contract with the Moroccan team is due to end in June 2018.

    The 49-year-old Frenchman took over as Morocco’s coach in 2016, succeeding former coach Badou Ezzaki.

    With his rich experience in the field, Renard helped his team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after great performances against other African teams, including Mali, Gabon and Cote d’Ivoire.

    After the final qualifier against Cote d’Ivoire, the coach has expressed his satisfaction over the Moroccan team, whose “combativeness and selflessness have been key to qualifying and winning today against Ivory Coast.”

    The best is yet to come, as the Moroccan team is determined to achieve more wins in order to both raise the Moroccan flag in the World Cup in Russia and make its fans proud.

    Morocco’s win over Cote d’Ivoire is still making headlines in both Moroccan and international news outlets. Morocco is now among four other African countries that will participate in the tournament: Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, and Egypt.

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  • World Cup power rankings: how the 32 qualifiers for Russia shape up

    (The Guardian) The teams who are heading for the 2018 World Cup finals have all been in action over the past week and while Germany and Brazil lead the way there are plenty of other sides who will fancy their chances in Russia.

    18) Morocco

    Back at the World Cup for the first time since 1998, Hervé Renard’s side came through a tricky group without conceding a goal. The 2-0 victory over Ivory Coast in Abidjan was a masterclass in defensive organisation from their French manager, who has excelled in international football but struggled to replicate that at club level. Renard received a phone call from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI after that match to congratulate him on the achievement but the Atlas Lions will not just be making up the numbers in Russia, with talented players in every position who could make quite an impact.

    Player to watch Hakim Ziyech

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/nov/16/world-cup-russia-power-rankings-32-qualifiers

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  • WC 2018: Pots announced for Final Draw

    (FIFA.com) With Peru completing the line-up of 32 teams for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, we now know the seeding pots for the Final Draw on 1 December.

    It was confirmed in September, by the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions, that all teams will be allocated to (eight-team) pots 1 to 4 based on sporting principles. The October 2017 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be used to allocate all qualified teams to the four pots according to their ranking in descending order, after hosts Russia who take the top seeding spot.

    It is worth remembering that the principle of drawing the teams into the groups will remain unchanged. This means that no teams from the same confederation, with the exception of UEFA, which could have up to two teams in the same group, will be drawn into the same group.

    The Final Draw will take place on Friday 1 December at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace.

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