• Hossam El-Badry: Walid Azaro qualified to join Morocco squad

    Al Ahly head coach Hossam El-Badry believes that Walid Azaro is qualified to join the Moroccan squad that is set to participate in the 2018 World Cup.

    Azaro joined Al Ahly last summer coming from Moroccan side Difaa El Jadida. His latest performances have been exceptional, as he has been scoring week in, week out for the Red Devils.

    The Morocco international is now the top goalscorer of the Egyptian Premier League with 14 goals, two ahead of Misr El-Makassa’s John Antwi and Omar El-Said from Wadi Degla.

    The Red Devils coach spoke about Azaro’s chances of joining the Morocco squad that will be participating in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    “I can say that Azaro is highly qualified to join the Morocco national team. He has improved drastically and I hope that he will earn his spot in the Moroccan squad that will be heading to the World Cup,” El-Badry told Arryadia TV.

    Morocco were drawn in Group B alongside former World Cup champions Spain, Euro 2016 winners Portugal and Iran.

    “Morocco have a great group of players. They will be facing top class teams in the World Cup, but I think all teams have their chances,” he added.


  • WC 2018: African nations finalise World Cup warm-up matches

    (ESPN) All of Africa's World Cup bound teams have finalised warm-up friendlies for next month, as they seek to get in potentially vital preparation ahead of their trip to Russia in mid-year.

    Senegal were the last of the five countries to fix games for the international window between March 19-28, but all now have a decent diet to give themselves a solid test in the last window of opportunity while the players are still at their respective clubs.

    Nigeria will go to Poland and then take on Serbia in London while Egypt are basing themselves in Switzerland for friendlies against Portugal and Bulgaria.

    Morocco and Tunisia will play one match each at home and then another in Europe.

    Morocco start against Serbia on Friday, 23 March, with the game set for Turin in Italy, and then go home to Casablanca for a home game on Tuesday, 27 March with Uzbekistan, who have been invited because they might replicate the style of Iran, who share Morocco's group at the World Cup.

    Uzbekistan will arrive in Morocco earlier so that they can play Senegal on 23 March, also in Casablanca.

    Senegal then go onto France, where they will play Bosnia-Herzegovina on 27 March. The venue is yet to be fixed but will be either Beauvais or Le Havre.

    Tunisia's football federation announced last week they would play Iran at the Rades Stadium on 23 March and then travel to Nice, France for a meeting with Costa Rica on neutral territory.

    The Tunisians also detailed their post-season preparations, which include an 11-day camp at altitude in the Swiss Alps.

    They will also play two friendlies, likely against club opposition, during their stay in Verbier from 28 May-5 June.

    Tunisia have already held a training camp for locally-based players at the turn of the year as the top local clubs have allowed coach Nabil Maaloul to call up their players outside the FIFA window for national team activity.

    Tunisia is the only one of the five African sides going to Russia who draw the majority of their squad members from their domestic championship.

    But the recent transfer of the likes of Ferjani Sassi to Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Amine Ben Amor and Hamid Nagguez to Egypt has seen the Tunisian federation cancel plans for furthers camps. They feel these are no longer necessary because too many key squad members are now no longer available as their new employers in Europe would not release them for the ad-hoc camps which Maaloul had planned for this month and March.

    But the Tunisia coach will still get his goalkeeping candidates for brief get-togethers from 19-21 February, 23-25 April and 30 April-2 May.

    Egypt must still fix their May plans but can also be expected to head back to Switzerland after their two March games.

    Morocco's federation have yet to announce their post league season, pre-World Cup training plans but local reports say they will also be going to Switzerland, after first assembling at the national training centre in Maamoura on 20 May.

    Morocco will be based some 1500 metres above sea level at Crans Montana where training in the thin air will boost fitness levels before going to a tough group in Russia, where they face Iran, Portugal and Spain.

    A friendly against Nigeria in Austria is also planned for 9 June.

    Nigeria have already pencilled in a date at Wembley against England on 2 June.

    Nigeria will also be in London next month at The Hive, home of League Two strugglers Barnet, where they will take on Serbia. It will be the second time Nigeria have played there, previously taking on Senegal in a 1-1 last March.

    Senegal's two games next month will be followed by three more internationals in the weeks leading up to the World Cup, which kicks off on 14 June.

    The Lions meet Luxembourg away on May 31, then Croatia in Zagreb on June 8 and will play one more game on 12 June. That opponent and venue has yet to be fixed.

    Coach Aliou Cisse will have his players from 21-24 May for their first camp in Senegal before they go onto Vittel in France which will be their base camp right up until departure for Russia.

  • Moroccans Abroad: El Yamiq excited by Genoa move

    By Football Italia

    New Genoa defender Jawad El Yamiq is relishing his transfer and reveals Juventus star Medhi Benatia “is like a brother to me.”

    The Morocco international turns 26 later this month and made the move from Raja Casablanca on transfer deadline day.

    “I didn’t expect to come to Genoa, but when the offer arrived, I had no doubts and immediately accepted. I will give my all for this club,” he said.

    “I am a quick player and good in the air. I think I’m also strong in physical duels with opponents, but of course I’m not perfect and can always improve. I’ve played with a three-man defence before, so it’s not an issue. If the Coach asks, I’ll even play in goal!

    “I called Adel Taarabt before coming to Genoa and he spoke very highly of the city. I can see he was right, it’s beautiful. I am at an ambitious club with a glorious history and hope to be a protagonist in its future.”

    Taarabt isn’t the only player who can help El Yamiq settle in Serie A, as he considers Juventus centre-back Benatia “like a brother to me. He encouraged me to come here and take this opportunity.

    “I talk to him every day and he pushes me on to do more, because doing well in Italy will be very important for my career. It’s helpful that there is already such a big Moroccan community in Genoa, including my sister. That’s why I’ve known about the Genoa Derby for many years. I always asked her to send me a jersey and she never did. Now I have one of my own.”

  • From zero to hero: Ahly's Moroccan striker Azaro in stellar form

    Almost four months ago, Walid Azaro was vilified by Ahly's demanding supporters for being a "flop signing" as he struggled in front of goal, wasting numerous clear-cut chances.

    Coach Hossam El-Badry, who blessed his signing from Morocco's Difaa El Jadida for $1.4 million last summer, kept faith with the 22-year-old and he is now repaying his trust with a series of clinical displays.

    Azaro is now Ahly and the Egyptian Premier League's top scorer with 14 goals, two clear of El-Entag El-Harby's Omar El-Said and Maqassa's Ghanaian striker John Antwi.

    "I have to thank El-Badry because he is the main reason that I'm now the league's top scorer. I'm very happy with my current form and I promise the fans that I will give even more," Azaro told an Egyptian radio station on Tuesday.

    "I was heavily criticised at the beginning and everyone waited for me to score just one goal. Nobody noticed what I was offering apart from the goals."

    Azaro has a valid point.

    Although goals were hard to come by, Azaro made it easier for Ahly's deep-lying forwards and playmakers to carve out openings, thanks to his blistering pace that caused a constant menace to his markers and allowed him to ghost behind defences far too easily.

    What Azaro needed was perhaps more confidence after the fans grew impatient with his profligacy. While the club are hardly troubled in a domestic league they usually dominate, they could ill-afford to squander easy chances in the lucrative African Champions League where the competition was fierce.

    Ahly lost the Champions League final to Morocco's Wydad Casablanca but with the club finding little competition in the Egyptian league, the stage was set for Azaro to prove his worth without much pressure.

    In November, Azaro started to deliver. He netted two goals in a 2-1 win over El-Entag El-Harby and was on target in three consecutive victories over Dakhleya, Masry and Enppi.

    His latest salvo came in Monday's crushing 5-2 victory over Arab Contractors, scoring a double with two trademark poacher's efforts. He also had a goal disallowed in the first half for an alleged handball.

    Azaro's inspired form could earn him a call-up for Morocco's national team as they gear up for the World Cup in Russia, where several of his Ahly teammates will be also in action with Egypt.

    "I dream of being present in Russia (next summer). I want to be with Morocco and among the world's greats," he added.


  • Transfers: Othman El Kabir joins Russian top division side FC Ural from Swedish club Djurgarden.


    Morocco will be based in the city of Voronezh for their 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.

    Moroccan newspaper Al Akhbar revealed on Monday that Herve Renard’s Atlas Lions will be housed at the Marriott Voronej Hotel and will train at Chaika Stadium.

    Voronezh is located approximately 450 kilometres south of Moscow and 200 kilomteres north-east of the border with Ukraine.

    Morocco are set to play in Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Kaliningrad for their Group B matches against Iran, Portugal and Spain respectively.

    They will reportedly travel to each city from Voronezh the day before the game and train in the World Cup stadiums.

    FIFA expect all teams to be situated in their base camps five days before the start of the tournament on June 14.


  • Confederation Cup: Morocco's Ayoub El Kaabi scores for Renaissance Berkane

    (BBC Sports) Morocco's Ayoub El Kaabi, the top scorer at the recent African Nations Championship (CHAN), scored again at the weekend this time for his club Renaissance Berkane in the Confederation Cup.

    His goal on Sunday helped Berkane beat visiting Mbour Petite Cote of Senegal 2-1 in the first leg of the preliminary round tie,

    He scored in the 66th-minute soon after the visitors had Adama Gueye red-carded, and it cancelled out the lead Baba Sow gave the west Africans before half-time.

    El Kaabi, a Moroccan second-tier footballer last season, scored a record nine goals as hosts Morocco won the CHAN for home-based players.

    Laba Kodjo struck on 76 minutes to give Berkane an uncomfortably narrow advantage ahead of the return match.

    A remarkable four penalties were missed before Asante Kotoko of Ghana converted one in stoppage time to edge CARA of Congo-Brazzaville 1-0 on Sunday.

    Saddick Adams fired the first Kotoko spot-kick wide before team-mates Amos Frimpong and Baba Mahama had their attempts saved in Kumasi.

    The Congolese side also had a penalty saved before Mohammed Yakubu eventually converted one.

    The second legs of the ties are set to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday 20-21 February.

    Confederation Cup results - preliminary round 1st leg

    Sunday's Results:

    APR (Rwanda) 4-0 Anse Reunion (Seychelles)

    AFC Leopards (Kenya) 1-1 Fosa Juniors (Madagascar)

    Akwa Utd (Nigeria) 1-2 Hawks (The Gambia)

    Asante Kotoko (Ghana) 1-0 CARA (Congo)

    Simba (Tanzania) 4-0 Gendarmerie Nationale (Djibouti)

    Renaissance Berkane (Morocco) 2-1 Mbour Petite Cote (Senegal)

    Africa Sports (Ivory Coast) 1-1 Nouadhibou (Mauritania)

    Zimamoto (Zanzibar) 1-1 Wolaitta Dicha (Ethiopia)

    Saturday's Results:

    Petro Atletico (Angola) 5-0 Masters Security (Malawi) 0

    Young Buffaloes (Swaziland) 0-1 Cape Town City (South Africa)

    Costa do Sol (Mozambique) 1-1 Jwaneng Galaxy (Botswana) 0

    Energie (Benin) 1-0 Hafia (Guinea)

    Ngazi (Comoros) 1-1 Port Louis (Mauritius)

    Mangasport (Gabon) 0-1 Maniema Union (DR Congo)

    Olympic Star (Burundi) 0-0 Etoile Filante (Burkina Faso)

    New Stars (Cameroon) 2-1 Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea)

    Tanda (Ivory Coast) 0-0 La Mancha (Congo)

    Al Ittihad (Libya) 1-0 Sahel (Niger)

    Al Masry (Egypt) 4-0 Green Buffaloes (Zambia)

    Friday's Result:

    Onze Createurs (Mali) 1-1 Belouizdad (Algeria)

  • CAF: Difaa El Jadidi Crushes Benfica of Guinea Bissau 10-0

    By Morocco World News

    Rabat – Moroccan football team Difaa Hassani El Jadidi defeated on Saturday Guinea-Bissau’s Benfica football team with a 10-0 victory. Saturday’s win has enabled the team to achieve the biggest single-leg victory in the 54-year history of the CAF Champions League.

    The squad’s key winger, Hamid Ahaddad netted five goals for his team in the preliminary round first leg rout, to become the top scorer in the history of the tournament.

    Tanzanian Simon Msuva scored a hat-trick during the game, while the Mauritanian Bakery N’Diaye has also scored a goal for Difaa Hassani El Jadidi. Morocco’s Bilal El Magri has managed also to leave his mark during the game through scoring a solo.

    The 2018 CAF Champions League, commonly referred to as the 2018 Total CAF Champions League, is the 53rd edition of the competition and the 22nd edition under the current CAF Champions League format.

    The tournament, which is taking place from February 10 to November 11, is gathering together 54 teams from 47 associations.

  • NT: Zinedine Machach to Represent Morocco Instead of Algeria, World Cup Play Likely

    By Morocco World News

    Zinedine Machach to Represent Morocco Instead of Algeria, World Cup Play Likely

    Rabat – Herve Renard, Morocco’s national football team coach, has managed to convince Moroccan-Algerian midfielder Zinedine Machach to join the Moroccan national football team.

    Born to a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother, Machach has been playing for the Italian team Societa Sportiva Calcio Napoli, commonly referred to as Napoli.

    The news was confirmed by Moroccan sports TV Channel Arryadia. Via Twitter, Arryadia posted, “Convinced by Herve Renard, Zinedine Machach will wear the Moroccan colors. Born to a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother, Machach has been playing for Napoli since January 2018 for a four and a half year contract.”

    Machach and several other Moroccan footballers playing internationally are expected to make Renard’s Morocco squad for the World Cup in Russia.

    Born in France, the 22-year old footballer began his youth career with AS Cannes and Olympique Marseille before signing with Toulouse in 2014.

  • CHAN 2018: Nigeria outclassed by Morocco in CHAN final

    (AfricanFootball.com) Nigeria’s dreams of a first African Nations Championship title were dashed on Sunday night when they suffered a 4-0 beating at the hands of hosts Morocco in the final in Casablanca.

    The Super Eagles, who played most of the second half with 10 men, were outclassed by the Atlas Lions, who became the fourth different winners of the CHAN, joining DR Congo, Tunisia and Libya on the honours board.

    Morocco gave an early warning of their attacking potency when striker Ayoub El Kaabi headed home from Ismail Haddad’s corner kick in the seventh minute, but the goal was correctly ruled out because the ball had passed out of play in its flight.

    El Kaabi took centre stage again in the 15th minute when he met Haddad’s left-flank cross with an acrobatic overhead kick and rattled Nigeria’s crossbar with the effort, underlining the Atlas Lions’ early dominance.

    Nigeria came into the game a little more as the first half wore on, but the hosts remained dangerous in attack and finally broke the deadlock just before the interval.

    A slick move put Abdeljalil Jbira free down the left flank, his pullback from the by-line picked out Zakaria Hadraf and the winger fired a low shot into the back of the net, beating goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye low to his right.

    Things went from bad to worse for the Super Eagles when Peter Moses, who was already on a yellow card, scythed down Mohamed Nahiri early in the second half and was sent off for a second caution.

    The Atlas Lions duly made the most of their numerical advantage, with Walid El Karti doubling their lead on the hour mark when he headed home on the rebound after Ajiboye saved Haddad’s shot, before Hadraf added his second a few minutes later to make it 3-0.

    A Morocco win at this tournament wouldn’t be complete without a strike from El Kaabi, and the forward duly notched his ninth of the 2018 CHAN when redirected a shot from Nahiri in the 73rd minute to complete the scoring.

    Morocco (1) 4 (Hadraf 45’ 64’, El Karti 61’, El Kaabi 73’)

    Nigeria 0

    Morocco: Zniti, El Yamiq, Boulahroud (Barrahma 60’), Hadraf (Hammoudan 72’), Saidi, El Kaabi (Nahnah 82’), El Karti, Haddad, Banoun, Nahiri, Jbira

    Nigeria: Ajiboye, Okoro, Atuloma, Orji, Eze, Ogbugh (Okpotu 53’), Ali (Oladapo 57’), Moses, Udo, Ojo, Okechukwu (Mustapha 78’


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