• Former internationals: First Moroccan to Score in the World Cup Dies at 74

    By Morocco World News

    Rabat – The former Moroccan player, Mohammed Jarir, died on Saturday, at 74, in the United States of America.

    With Jarir’s passing, Morocco lost one of his formative former players, who wore the Moroccan colors with distinction on more than one occasion. Jarir was born in 1944, in Casablanca, and his passion for football began at the age of 8. He started his professional football career in one of Morocco’s strongest clubs, Raja Club Athletic.

    Jarir demonstrated his dedication and love for football with his phenomenal skills and performance, which later led him to become a member of the Moroccan national team for the 1970 Mexican World Cup. During the tournament, Jarir scored a goal against Germany, becoming the first Moroccan to score in the World Cup.

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  • WC 2026: German Lothar Matthäus named ambassador for Morocco's bid to host 2026 World Cup

    (Xinhua) -- Former captain of German football team Lothar Matthäus has been appointed as Morocco's 2026 World Cup bid ambassador, Morocco's bid committee announced on Saturday.

    "Morocco is pleased to welcome the iconic Lothar Matthäus, former captain of the German national team and winner of the 1990 FIFA World Cup, as Morocco's 2026 World Cup bid ambassador," the Committee said in a statement.

    "I support Morocco's bid for the FIFA 2026 World Cup because I am convinced that Morocco, with its innovative concept, will offer good conditions to players, fans and all football lovers," Matthäus said, adding that Morocco is a true football land.

    Matthäus was also FIFA's best footballer for 1991. He won the prize of the best European player for 1990 and the best German player for 1990 and 1999.

    The German star joins the list of ambassadors of the Moroccan bid, which includes former Brazilian football star Roberto Carlos, Cameroonian Joseph-Antoine Bell, Senegalese Hadji Diouf and Khalilou Fadiga, Tunisian Adel Chedli and Congolese Robert Kidiaba.

    Morocco is looking to be the second African side to ever host the tournament after South Africa in 2010.

    This is Morocco's fifth bid to host the World Cup, after its losses for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions of the event.

    Morocco is competing with a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

    The winning bid is slated to be announced in June, 2018.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Youssef El-Arabi Awarded Best Scorer in Qatar

    (Morocco World News) Although he did not make Coach Hervé Renard’s list of 23 players for the national team in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Youssef El-Arabi can be proud of himself, as he was awarded the trophy of the best scorer in the Qatar Stars League for the 2017/2018 season.

    The Moroccan international player received the distinction Thursday night in Doha.

    With a total of 26 goals, the international footballer led his Qatari team Al-Duhail to win the Qatar championship.

    The club has won for the second time in a row and for the sixth time in its history.

    El-Arabi’s performance allowed him to beat Tunisian Youssef Msakni, who scored 25 goals during the season. The Moroccan Abderazzak Hamed Allah, who plays in the Al Rayyan club, came in third place with 18 goals scored during the championship.

    As for El-Arabi’s national career, the 31-year-old sensation previously expressed his wish to be chosen to play with the Atlas Lions for the World Cup.

    “Any footballer dreams of defending the colors of his country at the World Cup,” he said in an interview with the German Press Agency (DPA).

    Born in France, El Arabi represented Morocco with the Atlas Lions in 2010 in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. The footballer also played for Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal club and for La Liga Club Granada in 2012.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Boufal wins Premier League Goal of the Season

    By SFC Media

    Sofiane Boufal has been chosen as the winner of the Premier League's 2017/18 Goal of the Season award.

    The Saints player's incredible solo strike in the 1-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion last October was voted the best of any in the top-flight during the campaign.

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  • Press review: Saiss Relishing World Cup Challenge

    Fresh from being selected in the Morocco squad, Romain Saiss is excited to challenge himself against some of the best at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

    On Thursday, the Wolves midfielder was selected in the final 23-man squad for Morocco, who have been drawn into a group with Spain, Portugal and Iran.

    The 28-year-old, who plays in defence for his country, has now turned his attention to Russia and is excited to perform on the biggest stage.

    “We’ve waited for 20 years to be in a World Cup,” he explained. “It’s a good opportunity to play against the best teams in the world, players who’ll play in the Champions League final.

    “Ronaldo is probably the best striker in the world so it will be a good game, but I’m not focused on Ronaldo, they are a really good team. For the final in the European Championship he was injured but they won without him.

    “It’s just football, we are lucky to enjoy it and this could be the only World Cup in my career. The most important thing is not to be afraid, stay humble because we should play like we did before.

    “If we stay on the pitch afraid because we play against Spain or Portugal, it’s better we stay at home, but we have good fighting spirit and let’s see if we can pass the group.”

    Morocco’s last World Cup appearance came in 1998, when they were eliminated at the group stage, despite picking up four points against Scotland and Norway.

    However, in qualification Saiss and his team mates finished top of their group and are pleased to be performing well for their country, as well as Africa as a continent.

    “To have a good World Cup will be good for Africa because we want to organise it in 2026 so we have to show a good mentality and give the best for the country and Africa.

    “We have a good team, we finished first in our group, which was the hardest in qualification from Africa. We were in a group of five and had to be top.

    “With Portugal and Spain in our group, we are not the favourites to pass. We don’t have pressure but want to go to the World Cup with good ambition.”

    Saiss, who has performed in midfield for Wolves all season, alongside Ruben Neves and Alfred N’Diaye, is utilised in a back three for Morocco and enjoys the different role.

    “I think the two positions are a little bit similar and for my last club I played at centre back when someone was suspended or injured.

    “If they ask me to play goalkeeper or striker, I say no problem. It’s good for my career because I can play two positions.”

    Morocco’s World Cup campaign begins on 15th June against Iran in Saint Petersburg and Saiss knows the importance of that fixture, given the difficulty of the following two.

    “Maybe the game against Iran is the most important, I think a lot of people think Morocco and Iran will be out after the group. They play very good football, they are a good team with a good coach.

    “A victory would be important for the confidence before the games against Spain and Portugal. I trust in my team and the staff.

    “The most important thing is to be ready for the World Cup and give everything for Morocco. We finished the job with Wolves so now I’m focused on my second objective,” he said.

    https://www.wolves.co.uk/news/club/20180518-saiss-relishing-world-cup-challenge/

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  • Press review: Morocco announce provisional squad

    (FIFA.com) Morocco coach Herve Renard announced a provisional list of 23 players and three reserves that will make up the North African team, who return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998.

    The team will begin their preparation in Rabat on 24 May before taking part in three warm-up matches, prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

    Renard's Atlas Lions will play Ukraine on 31 May and Slovakia on 4 June (both games in Geneva, Switzerland) before taking on Estonia in Tallinn on 9 June.

    Morocco's match schedule at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

    All squads are provisional until the final list of 23 players is announced by FIFA, following their submission by participating teams, on 4 June.

    Morocco provisional squad

    Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Girona, Spain), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger);

    Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus, Italy), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir, Turkey), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid, Spain), Hamza Mendyl (Lille, France);

    Midfielders: M'bark Boussoufa (Al Jazira, UAE), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen, France), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray, Turkey), Faycal Fajr (Getafe, Spain), Amine Harit (Schalke, Germany);

    Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor, Turkey), Aziz Bouhaddouz (St. Pauli, Germany), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes, Spain), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liege, Belgium), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, Netherlands).

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  • World Cup 2018: Sofiane Boufal left out of Morocco squad

    (BBC) Southampton midfielder Sofiane Boufal has been left out of the Morocco squad for this summer's World Cup in Russia.

    The 24-year-old, a record signing when he joined Saints from Lille for £16m in 2016, has not played since 31 March following a dispute with manager Mark Hughes.

    Wolves defender Romain Saiss is in a squad containing only three men from the main Moroccan league, the Botola.

    Morocco are in Group B in Russia alongside Iran, Portugal and Spain.

    Morocco squad:

    Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia), Yassine Bounou (Girona), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger)

    Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss (Wolves), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid), Hamza Mendyl (LOSC)

    Midfielders: M'barek Boussoufa (Al Jazira), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Faycal Fajr (Getafe), Amine Harit (Schalke 04)

    Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor), Aziz Bouhaddouz (Saint Pauli), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liege), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax).

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  • World Cup 2018: Morocco reveal World Cup Selection

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco manager Herve Renard has revealed the Moroccan selection for the World Cup 2018.

    Here is the selection list:

    1-Munir El Kajoui

    2-Yassine Bounou

    3-Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti

    4-Nabil Dirar

    5-Marouane Da Costa

    6-Ghanim Saiss

    7-Hamza Mendyl

    8-Soufyan Amrabat

    9-Mehdi Benatia

    10-Achraf Hakimi

    11-Badr Banoun

    12-Karim El Ahmadi

    13-Youssef Ait Bennasser

    14-Mbark Boussoufa

    15-Youness Belhanda

    16-Fayçal Fajr

    17-Amine Harit

    18-Nouredin Amrabat

    19-Hakim Ziyech

    20-Ayoub El Kaabi

    21-Khalid Boutaib

    22-Aziz Bouhaddouz

    23-Mehdi Carcela

    Stand-by

    24-Oualid Hajjam

    25-Noussair Mazraoui

    26-Youssef En-Nasyri

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  • FIFA World Ranking: No change for Morocco

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco are still on the 42nd place of the FIFA World Ranking published today.

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  • Press review: Wydad Casablanca thrash AS Togo Port

    (Africanfootball.com) Wydad Casablanca thrashed AS Togo Port 3-0 in the 2018 CAF Champions League Group C game at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca on Tuesday.

    As a result, Morocco's Wydad move to the top of Group C standings, while Togolese side Togo Port remain fourth on the table.

    It took only two minutes for hosts to break the deadlock through their leading marksman Mohamed Ounajem.

    Amin Thigazaoui played a lovely through pass for Ounajem, who made no mistake as he beat Togo Port goalkeeper Jean Robert Klomegan to make it 1-0 to Wydad.

    The goal unsettled the Togo Port defence and they conceded again four minutes later, and this time it was Naim Aarab who scored

    The Belgium-born defender scored with a header to make it 2-0 to Wydad, with Thigazaoui grabbing his second assist.

    The visitors, who had been very poor, decided to pull out Didi Arnaud and they introduced Yao Novon in the 22nd minute.

    Togo Port were able to defend better and they managed to contain Wydad until Seychelles match referee Bernard Camille blew the half-time whistle.

    Wydad were leading 2-0 at the interval having dominated the first-half.

    The hosts continued their dominance in the second-half and they managed to extend their lead through Mohammed Nahiri.

    Ounajem found Nahiri inside the Togo Port box and the latter beat Klomegan with a low effort to make it 3-0 to Wydad 12 minutes into the second-half.

    Nahiri thought he had grabbed his brace on the hour-mark when he scored with a back-heel, but his goal was disallowed as he was offside.

    Komla Kove was introduced by Togo Port with eight minutes left as the visitors looked to snatch late goals in the closing stages of the game.

    However, the Wydad defence, which was led Aarab, stood firm in the dying minutes of the game and ultimately the defending champions beat Togo Port 3-0 on the night

    Wydad (2) 3 (Ounajem 2', Aarab 6', Nahiri 57')

    Togo Port 0

    Wydad: Laaroubi, N. Aarab, Noussir, Nahiri, Thigazaoui (Chikatara 90'), Saidi, Hassouni (El Karti 76'), Nakach (Ait-Ben-Idir 78'), Gaddarine, Ounajem, El Haddad.

    Togo Port: Klomegan, Ouro-Sama, Bourahana, Djadja, Bode, Sewonou, Sangare, Yacoubou, Arnaud (Novon 22'), Hunlede (Kove 82'), Kloukpo (Koussaglo 67').

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