• NT: FAR FROM HOME There’s something rather odd about the starting XI who helped Morocco qualify

    FAR FROM HOME There’s something rather odd about the starting XI who helped Morocco qualify for their first World Cup in 20 years

    Just one of the starters against the Ivory Coast was actually born in Morocco

    Congratulations are in order!

    Morocco beat Ivory Coast 2-0 last night to ensure World Cup qualification for the first time in 20 years.

    First half goals from Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia sparked delirious scenes for the visiting fans in Abidjan.

    Morocco needed just a point to finish top of Group C in the African preliminaries and ensure their first appearance at the world’s premier competition for the first time since France 1998.

    Although, there was something rather peculiar about their starting line-up…

    Ten of the starting eleven were born outside of Morocco.

    Mbark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, Hakim Ziyech and Nordin Amrabat were all born in the Netherlands.

    Medhi Benatia, Romain Saiss, Younes Belhanda and Khalid Boutaib were all born in France.

    While Munir and Achraf Hakimi were born in Spain.

    Only Nabil Dirar was born in Morocco and he moved to Belgium in his early teenage years.

    Given that Morocco have qualified for the World Cup you’d have to say the players were justified in choosing their ancestral country rather than their countries of birth.

    Hakim Ziyech will be particularly pleased.

    The Ajax midfielder played for Netherlands Under-19s, Under-20s and Under-21s before declaring for Morocco in 2015 when he was in consideration for the Dutch senior side.

    In 2016, Marco van Basten said: “How stupid can you be to choose Morocco if you are in contention for the Dutch national team?”

    They’ve come from all parts but all are proud Moroccans at heart

    Well Marco, Morocco have qualfied for the World Cup and the Netherlands haven’t.

    Not such a stupid decision now, is it?


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