• NT: Ziyech shines as Morocco beat Serbia 2-1 in friendly

    TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Midfielder Hakim Ziyech scored one goal and set up another to help lively Morocco beat Serbia 2-1 in a friendly on Friday as both nations started their build-up to the World Cup in Russia.

    Ziyech gave Morocco the lead as he converted a 29th-minute penalty and he delivered the inch-perfect cross for Khalid Boutaib to head the winner after Dusan Tadic had equalised.

    The Serbians started in an adventurous formation with three forwards and two attacking midfielders, but the unfamiliar strategy left anchorman Nemanja Matic with too much work to do.

    Toothless in attack, they looked shaky at the back whenever Morocco came forward and Ziyech made no mistake with the spot-kick after Nemanja Maksimovic hauled down Nordin Amrabat.

    Tadic, making his 50th international appearance, levelled with a crisp shot from eight metres with his weaker right foot in the 37th minute after a defence-splitting pass by Adem Ljajic left him with time and space.

    The Moroccans were in front again three minutes later as Ziyech broke down the right and swung in a delightful cross for Boutaib, whose header gave goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic no chance.

    Filip Kostic and Aleksandar Mitrovic missed late chances for Serbia, who face Nigeria in another warm-up at Barnet's stadium in London on Tuesday.

  • NT: FIFA rejects World Cup request by Morocco to select Munir El Haddadi

    (ESPN) Morocco's hopes of adding Munir El Haddadi to their World Cup squad have been dashed by FIFA.

    The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) asked the governing body to grant them clearance so that the Barcelona forward could switch his allegiance from Spain to Morocco, the country of Munir's father's birth.

    The 22-year-old played for Spain at youth level and made an appearance with La Roja in a Euro 2016 qualifier in September 2014.

    "The request made by the Football Federation of Morocco and the player Munir El Haddadi for change of Association was rejected by the Bureau of the Players' Status Committee," a FIFA spokesperson told ESPN FC.

    FIFA's rules forbid any player who has appeared in an official competition for one national team from appearing in an international game for another.

    Morocco have qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 and will face Spain, Portugal and Iran in Group B.

    The Atlas Lions were looking to strengthen their squad with Munir, who is on loan at Alaves from Barcelona and has scored six goals and set up five more in 25 league appearances.

    And potentially having Munir available for the 2026 World Cup, which Morocco is bidding to host, could have offered an additional appeal to both the forward and the national side.

    Munir earned his only Spain cap at 18 when he came on as a second-half substitute in a Euro 2016 qualifying win over Macedonia. He last featured for Spain in October 2016 when he played for the under-21 squad.

    Born in Madrid, Munir said he did not regret playing for Spain but said it would be "beautiful and a dream come true" to represent Morocco at the World Cup.

    Former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who gave Munir his Spain debut, regrets the decision.

    "I feel responsible for Munir not being able to play for Morocco," Del Bosque said in December. "Munir's situation is a shame. I think he should be able to play for Morocco. One should look at why he hasn't come since and why he was selected. It was due to a player being injured that we called up Munir."

  • Friendly: Morocco beat Serbia 2-1

    Final Whistle!

    92' Ayoub El Kaabi replaced Hakim Ziyech

    4 minutes of additional time

    83' Soufyan Amrabat replaced Karim El Ahmadi

    74' Aziz Bouhadouz replaced Khalid Boutaib

    Second half underway!

    Half Time whistle!

    39' Khalid Boutaib gives the lead again to Morocco vs Serbia. the score is 2-1


    37' Tadic makes it 1-1 for Serbia

    28' Hakim Ziyech scores for Morocco the 1-0 vs Serbia from penalty spot.


    Match is underway!

    Match: Morocco vs Serbia

    Competition: Friendly

    Kick off: 19h30 GMT, 20h30 CET

    Location: Turin, Italy

    Live streaming video: http://arryadia.com/

    Morocco starting lineup:

    Munir El Kajoui-Karim El Ahmadi-Hamza Mendyl-Nabil Dirar-Nourdin Amrabat-Younes Belhanda-Mbark Boussoufa-Mehdi Benatia (C)-Ghanem Saiss-Hakim Ziyech-Khalid Boutaib.

  • NT: Hakimi pulls out of Morocco squad because of injury

    BBC Sport

    Real Madrid defender Achraf Hakimi has withdrawn from the Morocco squad to face Serbia and Uzbekistan due to injury.

    The 19-year-old suffered the injury during Atlas Lions training in Turin ahead of Friday's friendly against Serbia.

    "Achraf Hakimi was injured during the first day of training with the national team," the Atlas Lions' doctor Abderrazak Hifti said in a video statement.

    "The situation is still unclear but Real Madrid have demanded his return to Madrid."

    Hakimi will also be unable to play against Uzbekistan at home in Casablanca on 27 March, according to

    Hakimi joins midfielder Youssef Ait Bennasser and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou on the list of absentees for the matches which are being regarded as warm-ups for this summer's Word Cup in Russia.

    He is enjoying a breakthrough season with European giants Real Madrid and has scored once in 14 appearances this season.

    Born in Madrid and eligible for Spain, Hakimi represented Morocco at youth levels before Atlas Lions manager Herve Renard handed him a senior debut in a 4-0 friendly win against Canada in October 2016.

    Hakimi made four appearances and scored once in the 6-0 annihilation of Mali as Morocco sealed 2018 World Cup qualification.

  • NT: Injured Yassine Bounou leaves the training camp of the Atlas Lions in Italy and will not play vs Serbia

  • CAF CL: Caf Champions League groups are ready after draw in Cairo

    BBC Sport

    Holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco have pulled debutants AS Port of Togo in the Confederation of African Football's Champions League draws.

    They are in Group C with 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Horoya of Guinea.

    Record winners Al Ahly of Egypt are in Group A alongside Esperance of Tunisia.

    This group also includes debutants Uganda's Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and Botswana's Township Rollers.

    Congolese giants TP Mazembe are in Group B with former winners Algeria's Entente Setif.

    Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, Difaa El Jadidi of Morocco are also in this same group.

    In Group D, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia will face Angola's Primeiro de Agosto, Zesco United of Zambia, as well as newcomers Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.

    The group phases will kick off on the weekend of 6-8 May.

    Champions League groups:

    Group A: Al Ahly (Egypt), Township Rollers (Botswana), KCCA (Uganda), Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia)

    GROUP B: TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Mouloudia Alger (Algeria), Difaa El Jadidi (Morocco), Entente Setif (Algeria)

    Group C: AS Port of Togo (Togo), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Horoya (Guinea)

    Group D: Zesco United (Zambia), Primeiro de Agosto (Angola), Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)

    Caf also held draws for the Confederation Cup play-offs.

    Zanaco (Zambia) v Raja Casablanca (Morocco), AS Vita Club (DR Congo) v CS la Mancha (Congo), Saint George (Ethiopia) v Cara Brazzaville (Congo), Al Hilal (Sudan) v Akwa Utd (Nigeria), Gor Mahia (Kenya) v SuperSport Utd (South Africa), UD Songo (Mozambique) v Al Hilal Obied (Sudan), Plateau Utd (Nigeria) v USM Alger (Algeria), Wits (South Africa) v Enyimba (Nigeria), Aduana Stars (Ghana) v Fosa Juniors (Madagascar), Young Africans (Tanzania) v Welayta Dicha (Ethiopia), Generation Foot (Senegal) v Renaissance Berkane (Morocco), Mounana (Gabon) v Al Masry (Egypt), ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast) v CR Belouizdad (Algeria), Williamsville (Ivory Coast) v Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea), Mountain of Fire and Miracles (Nigeria) v Djoliba (Mali), Rayon Sports (Rwanda) v Costa do Sol (Mozambique)

  • NT: Achraf Hakimi out injured during training camp in Italy, he will miss out the friendly against Serbia.

  • NT: Yassine Bounou doubtful for Morocco friendlies

    Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou is a major doubt for their international friendlies over the next week after suffering an adductor injury.

    The 26-year-old gloves-man picked up the injury ahead of Girona’s 6-3 loss to Real Madrid on Sunday in La Liga.

    He is set to undergo scans to determine whether he will be fit to face either Serbia in Turin on Friday, or Uzbekistan in Casablanca next week Tuesday.

    “To tell the truth, I felt pain in the adductor during the warm-up and during the match I struggled to clear the ball with the left foot, I think I have an injury,” Bounou told beIN sports on Sunday.

    “[I will need] tests to know but I do not think that I will be fit [for Morocco’s matches], I will see with the managers of the national selection.”

    If Bounou is unable to play, Morocco will look to either Munir Mohamedi or Ahmed Rega Tagnaouti to guard their goals in the friendlies.


  • NT: Azaro eyes World Cup success with Morocco

    BBC Sport

    Morocco striker Walid Azaro says the Atlas Lions "are ready for the World Cup in Russia" as he prepares to join up with his national team-mates for their friendlies later this month.

    The striker goes into the international window full of confidence after helping his club Al Ahly win a landmark 40th Egyptian League title last week.

    Now, the 22-year-old has his sights set on World Cup glory with Morocco.

    "I'm sure we will make the nation proud," Azaro told BBC Sport.

    I am always happy when I receive a call from the head coach, a call from the homeland is special for me

    Morocco will play two friendly matches against Serbia on 23rd March in Italy, followed by Uzbekistan on 27 March in Casablanca as they prepare for their first World Cup finals since France '98.

    Azaro says he is delighted to be part of Herve Renard's squad for the warm-up matches.

    "I am always happy when I receive a call from the head coach, a call from the homeland is special for me," Egypt-based Azaro said.

    The striker had not been called up by Morocco since June 2017 when he was involved in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon.

    Since then, Azaro has looked impressive with Al Ahly in his first season with the club. He now has his sights set on helping Ahly win the African Champions League after they lost in last season's final.

    However, he is adamant his club focus will not be a distraction from his commitments with Morocco.

    "I will not need time to adapt with the national team. When I was a player with Difaâ El Jadida before joining Al Ahly I was part of the national team.

    "I know the atmosphere there and that will help me.

    "I'm back with the national team after my hard work with Al Ahly and I want to thank my head coach there, Hossam El Badry, who has given me his full support," Azaro said.

    Morocco have been drawn in one of the toughest groups, where they fill face Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B.

    "Some people say this is the 'group of death,' but I like it. Morocco can play well against big teams, and I wanted a group like that," Azaro said.

    Morocco will begin their campaign in Russia against Iran on 15 June in St Petersburg.

    "I saw reports suggesting Iran are not a strong side, and that is not true. They are a very good side and this match will not be easy."

  • CAF CL: Wydad and Difaa El Jadida through to group phase

    (BBC Sport) Port of Togo and Morocco's Difaa el Jadida caused the biggest shocks on Sunday in the second leg of the African Champions League last-32 ties.

    Port became the first Togolese side to make the group phase of Africa's elite club competition, knocking out Sudan's Al Hilal on away-goals.

    Difaa el Jadida overcame former African champions AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo with a 2-2 draw in Kinshasa to win 3-2 on aggregate.

    Port knew they had a good chance to create history in the second leg of their tie against Al Hilal, having won their home leg 2-0 in Togo.

    Al Hilal took the aggregate score to 2-1 after just five minutes through Geovane, but Port hit back immediately as Ayi struck two minutes later to make it 3-1 overall.

    The hosts continued to try and claw their way back and were rewarded with further goals from Elnour and Bashier in the second half to make it 3-3 overall.

    However, it was not enough for the Sudanese outfit as Port secured their passage into the group phase on the away-goals ruling.

    Morocco's Difaa el Jadida - who earlier in the competition had achieved a record win over Benfica of Guinea-Bissau - took a slender 1-0 lead to Kinshasa for the return leg against Vita Club.

    Mundele hit a brace for Vita Club but it was not enough, as a goal from Ahaddad and then a stoppage time equaliser from Nanah gave Jadida a 2-2 draw on the night, to win 3-2 on aggregate.

    The clubs who qualified for the Champions League group phase will now be divided into four pools after a seeded draw, with the winners and runners-up from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.

    African Champions League last-32 second-leg fixtures:


    KCCA (Uganda) 1-0 Saint George (Ethiopia) (KCCA win 1-0 on aggregate)

    Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland) 1-0 Zanaco (Zambia) (Swallows win 3-1 on aggregate)

    Williamsville (Ivory Coast) 2-0 Wydad Casablanca (Morocco, holders) (Wydad win 7-4 on aggregate)

    Mounana (Gabon) 1-3 Al Ahly (Egypt) (Ahly win 7-1 on aggregate)

    Mouloudia Alger (Algeria) 6-0 MFM (Nigeria) (Mouloudia win 7-2 on aggregate)

    Generation Foot (Senegal) 0-2 Horoya (Guinea) (Horoya win 4-1 on aggregate)

    Township Rollers (Botswana) 0-0 Young Africans (Tanzania) (Rollers win 2-1 on aggregate)

    Songo (Mozambique) 3-0 TP Mazembe (DR Congo) (Mazembe win 4-3 on aggregate)

    Wits (South Africa) 1-0 Primeiro Agosto (Angola) (Tie ends 1-1 on aggregate. Primeiro win 3-2 on penalties)


    Entente Setif (Algeria) 4-0 Aduana Stars (Ghana)(Setif win 4-1 on aggregate)

    Esperance (Tunisia) 1-0 Gor Mahia (Kenya) (Esperance win 1-0 on aggregate)

    Plateau Utd (Nigeria) 1-0 Etoile Sahel (Tunisia)(Etoile win 4-3 on aggregate)

    Al Hilal (Sudan) 3-1 Port (Togo) (Tie ends 3-3 on aggregate. Port win on away goals)

    ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast) 1-2 Zesco Utd (Zambia) (Tie ends 2-2 on aggregate. Zesco win on away goals)

    V Club (DR Congo) 2-2 Difaa el Jadida (Morocco) (Jadida win 3-2 on aggregate)

    Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 2-0 Rayon Sports (Rwanda) (Sundowns win 2-0 on aggregate)


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