• CAF: Former African champions drawn in same Confed Cup group

    BBC Sport

    Three former continental champions were placed in the same group in the African Confederation Cup, when the draw for this year's group stage was conducted in Cairo on Saturday.

    ASEC Abidjan from Ivory Coast, AS Vita Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco's Raja Casablanca will play each other in Group A - three teams who have all tasted past success in continental club competition.

    They will ensure a tough tussle in the group phase of African football's secondary club competition.

    AS Vita Club were designated top seeds in the group by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) but it is a status that both ASEC and Raja will quickly set about disputing.

    Another former continental champion, Enyimba of Nigeria, who won the Champions League back-to-back in 2003 and 2004, play in Group C where they are top seeds against CARA Brazzaville of Congo, Mali's Djoliba and the Ivorians rookies AC Williamsville - a club created in 1995 and who recently named Didier Drogba to their board.

    Djoliba, runners-up six years ago, are the only one of this year's 16 group phase participants, who have contested a previous Confederation Cup final.

    USM Alger probably have the broadest smiles after the draw conducted by Caf general secretary Amr Fahmy and his deputy Tony Baffoe at the Caf headquarters on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital.

    USMA were paired with three east African clubs in Group D - newcomers Rayon Sport from Rwanda, the regional giants Gor Mahia of Kenya and Young Africans of Tanzania.

    The clash between the fabled Kenyan club and their Tanzania rivals will be much anticipated in the region.

    Group B's top seeds are Al Hilal of Sudan, paired with two fellow Arab clubs in Renaissance Berkane (Morocco) and Al Masry (Egypt) and the rookies UCD Songo from Mozambique.

    The group phase kicks off on Sunday 6 May and there will be a second round of group matches on Wednesday 16 May before a hiatus for the World Cup.

    The last four rounds of group games are set for July and August after which the top two teams in each group advance to the quarter-finals in September.

    African Confederation Cup draw:

    Group A: ASEC Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Raja Casablanca (Morocco), AS Vita Club (DR Congo), Aduana Stars (Ghana)

    Group B: Renaissance Berkane (Morocco), Al Masry (Egypt), UCD Songo (Mozambique), Al Hilal (Sudan)

    Group C: Enyimba (Nigeria), AC Williamsville (Ivory Coast), CARA Brazzaville (Congo), Djoliba (Mali)

    Group D: Rayon Sport (Rwanda), USM Alger (Algeria), Young Africans (Tanzania), Gor Mahia (Kenya)

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  • Moroccans abroad: Walid Azaro becomes highest-scoring foreign player in single Egypt league

    (ARAB NEWS) Moroccan footballer Walid Azaro has just become the highest-scoring foreigner in a single season of Egypt’s premier league, according to local reports.

    Azaro, who plays for Egypt’s Al-Ahly Club, scored latest goal in his team’s match against Wadi Degla team Tuesday.

    With a total of 18 goals, the 22-year-old sets a new record by becoming the highest-scoring foreigner in a single Egyptian League season.

    He overtakook Angolan striker Flavio as well as former Ismaili and Nigerian forward John Utaka, who both held the previous joint-record of 17 goals.

    Al-Ahly is expected to be crowned champions for this season, currently top of the league with 82 points.

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  • CAF: Raja Casablanca advance to CAF Confederation Cup group stage

    (Xinhua) -- Moroccan Raja Casablanca hammered Zambian Zanaco 3-0 on Wednesday to earn their ticket to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.

    The 2003-title-holders and the three-time African Champions League winners confirmed their 2-0 win over the Zambian team in the first-leg in Lusaka.

    In front of thousands of their supporters in Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, Raja killed the game after only 20 minutes. Morocco's league top scorer Mohcine Yajour broke the deadlock as early as the 15th minute before the other striker Mahmoud Benhalib scored the second goal in the 19th minute.

    Defender Bader Banoune scored the third goal through header from a corner at 77th minute.

    The result confirmed the good record of the Moroccan teams in the African competition this season, after the other representative of the Moroccan football RSB Berkane qualified for the first time in their history to the group stage of CAF Confederation Cup.

    Morocco's Wydad Casablanca and DH El Jadida have also earned a spot in the African Champions League group stage.

    The group stage draw for the two competitions is slated for Saturday in Cairo.

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  • NT: Munir appeals to CAS in bid to switch from Spain to Morocco

    (Reuters) - Deportivo Alaves forward Munir El Haddadi has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in his bid to switch allegiance from Spain to Morocco.

    CAS said in a statement that Munir had appealed jointly with the Moroccan Football Federation (FMF) after FIFA turned down his request on March 13.

    The appeal included a request for a decision by mid-May “in order for the player’s sporting nationality to be decided prior to the commencement of the FIFA 2018 World Cup,” said CAS FIFA rules bar players from switching allegiance once they have played a competitive international even if they hold dual nationality.

    Munir, 22, made a single appearance for Spain, in a European championship qualifier against Macedonia in September 2014, when he came on as a substitute and played less than 15 minutes.

    “This was my decision and I knew what I was doing. Since I was young I have played in Spain and this was my idea,” said Munir at the time. “I spoke with people in Morocco and told them that I wanted to play here instead.”

    Munir, who was born in Spain and has a Moroccan father, was raised at Barcelona’s famous youth academy where he made his professional debut and is currently on loan at Alaves.

    He has also spent one season on loan at Valencia.

    FIFA’s stakeholders committee is studying a proposal to make the rules more flexible in such cases.

    Cape Verde’s football federation suggested the rule be relaxed in cases where the player has played only one or two games for his original national side but has no realistic chance of a recall.

    “It’s a good time to have a look at this and see if there are solutions, without hurting the integrity of the game,” said Victor Montagliani, head of the stakeholders committee, in October.

    Spain and Morocco have been drawn in the same group at the World Cup alongside Portugal and Iran.

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  • CAF Confederation Cup: Raja OK, R. Berkane KO

    (BBC Sport) Amadou Dia Ndiaye scored a 13-minute hat-trick as Generation Foot of Senegal fought back to defeat Renaissance Berkane of Morocco 3-1 in the first leg of their African Confederation Cup play-off.

    Ayoub el Kaabi, whose nine goals helped hosts Morocco win the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN), had put Berkane ahead with a 38th minute goal in Dakar.

    But their first-half advantage was dramatically overturned as Ndiaye scored on 50, 59 and 63 minutes.

    Raja Casablanca, the other Moroccan challengers in the second-tier African club competition, fared better as they triumphed 2-0 away to Zanaco of Zambia in Lusaka.

    The three-time African champions broke the deadlock on 68 minutes through Mahmoud Benhalib and Zakaria Hadraf struck seven minutes later to all but ensure Raja a group place.

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  • NT: Morocco line up three friendly games ahead of World Cup in Russia

    (Xinhua) -- Morocco have confirmed friendly fixtures against Ukraine, Slovakia and Estonia ahead of the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia.

    The Royal Moroccan Football Federation announced in a statement on Saturday that Morocco will face Ukraine and Slovakia in Switzerland on May 30th and June 4th, respectively.

    In the last friendly game before the World Cup, Morocco will play Estonia in the latter's capital Tallinn on June 9th.

    Having qualified for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia after 20 years of absence, Morocco will battle Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B when the quadrennial event kick-off on June 14.

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  • NT: Morocco to play friendlies with Ukraine on May 30th

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco will play Ukraine on May 30 as preparation for the World cup. Game is confirmed by FRMF along with games against Estonia & Slovakia.

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  • NT: Ait Bennasser facing race to be fit for World Cup

    (BBC Sport) France-born Youssef Ait Bennasser faces a race against time to be fit for Morocco's World Cup campaign

    Youssef Ait Bennasser has been ruled out of action until May with a thigh injury and faces a fight to be fully fit for Morocco's World Cup campaign.

    The 21-year-old midfielder suffered the injury during his French side Caen's 3-0 defeat at Angers last month and was substituted after just 69 minutes.

    "Youssef will be out for five weeks and should be ready for the Monaco match (6 May)," Caen coach Patrice Garande announced ahead of Sunday's fixture against Montpellier.

    Ait Bennasser is expected to return for the last three games of Caen's Ligue 1 season and has only eight days to convince Morocco coach Herve Renard to include him in the Atlas Lions' 35-man provisional squad for Russia.

    The World Cup provisional squad lists - which have increased in size from 30 to 35 players - are required to be submitted by 14 May, with a final 23-man squad list to be finalised on 4 June at the latest.

    Having missed the last two international friendlies against Serbia and Uzbekistan, the France-born player, on loan at Caen from Monaco - must prove his fitness to join the Atlas Lions' World Cup campaign this summer.

    Capped 11 times by Morocco, he has made 22 appearances for his loan club this season in the French top flight.

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  • Moroccans abroad: Morocco star Hakimi keen to stay at Real Madrid

    (Africanfootball.com) Morocco international Achraf Hakimi says he has no intention of leaving the reigning Spanish La Liga champions Real Madrid.

    This is despite recent reports having linked the 19-year-old right-back away from the Spanish capital.

    “I can only see myself playing for Real Madrid, they are the club of my life and I have no intention of leaving at all,” Hakimi told Marca.

    Hakimi is competing with Spain international Dani Carvajal, who is Real's first choice right back.

    “Dani Carvajal is a strong example for me to follow – he came through the academy system like myself and now he is the number one choice and the best right-back," he added.

    “I try to watch Dani all the time and learn from everything he does because I love how he plays and it is what I aspire too.

    The highly-rated defender has made 13 appearances and a goal across all competitions for Zinedine Zidane’s side this season.

    Hakimi will take on Italian giants Juventus in the two-legged quarter-finals of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.

    “Zidane was right to start Nacho against Paris Saint-Germain as he did very well and helped us qualify but I will help the coach in any opportunities I can," he added.

    “Juventus? We know it will be difficult, but we have no fears against anyone and our goal is always to qualify.”

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  • NT: Herve Renard satisfied after March friendlies

    (Africanfootball.com) Morocco coach Herve Renard was left satisfied with his team’s performances in the March friendlies, and says he has tough choices ahead in picking the final squad for the 2018 World Cup.

    The Atlas Lions claimed wins over Serbia (2-0) and Uzbekistan (2-1) in Turin and Casablanca respectively, with Renard able to effectively field two completely different teams and run the rule over candidates for the trip to Russia.

    "We are always happy when we manage to win the matches. There is never an easy match, it is difficult or more difficult,” Renard told BeIN Sports.

    “An extensive player review was conducted for these appointments. We had a very good match against Serbia on Friday.

    “Against Uzbekistan, 95 percent of the players had changed. It was important to see everyone, to give everyone the chance to evolve.

    "Now we get to the final stretch, anyway! I have an important vision, but it is not definitive.

    There are two months left, I am hoping there will be no injuries among the players.

    “We have a nice frame, now we will have to make decisive choices on two or three key players. This will be my most important job.”

    Renard will have to submit an initial list of 35 players to FIFA by May 14.

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