• NT: Moroccan National Football Team Arrives in Russia

    (Morocco World News) Rabat – The Moroccan national football team arrived in Russia on Sunday morning to begin the final round of preparations for 2018 World Cup in Russia, which will kick off on June 14.

    The Atlas Lions’ airplane took off from Tallinn to Russia after their final pre-World Cup friendly game against Estonia.

    Upon their arrival in Voronezh, a city 446 kilometer south of Moscow, the Moroccan team was welcomed by Moroccan Ambassador to Russia Abdelkader Lachheb.

    The Atlas Lions will now start their training sessions to face the hardest group in this year’s tournament: Group B, which includes Iean, Portugal and Spain.

    In a post-match conference following yesterday match against Estonia, Coach of the Moroccan team, Herve Renard, expressed his dissatisfaction with the performance of some players during the second half.

    “I am happy for the first half, but we could not keep the pace, we had a bad second half. I also preferred to give a few players a chance. I am not satisfied with the performance of some of them,” said Renard.

    Despite his dissatisfaction, Renard stressed that his team is ready for the World Cup in Russia. It will be the team’s fifth World Cup appearance after 20 years of absence.

    Morocco will face Iran on June 15 in St. Petersburg. The Atlas Lions’ second game will be against Portugal on June 20 in Moscow. Morocco will play the last game in the first round of the World Cup against Spain on June 25 in Kaliningrad.

  • WC 2026: FIFA congress set to decide on 2026 World Cup host

    (Dpa) The FIFA congress will decide the 2026 World Cup host between Morocco and United States-Mexico-Canada on Wednesday after the council of the ruling football governing body formally allowed both bids to proceed.

    The council met on Sunday in Moscow, three days before the final decision will be taken by all FIFA members - the first time a tournament has been allocated in such a manner.

    An evaluation panel could have disqualified either bid that rated too poorly in technical areas. Morocco scored 2.7 out of five overall to clear the minimum requirement of 2 but is rated high risk in stadium construction, transport and hotels.

    The United States-Mexico-Canada, known as United 2026, scored 4 overall and would likely double the revenue a Moroccan finals could raise, boosted by high potential sales of tickets and corporate hospitality.

    It has been speculated FIFA president Gianni Infantino prefers the United bid which is still favourite to win via the ballot. The two candidate countries cannot vote themselves, leaving 207 FIFA members to make the decision.

    The 2018 World Cup begins in Russia on Thursday with the 2022 edition in Qatar.

  • Transfers: Moroccan forward Ahaddad in Cairo for Zamalek move

    (Ahram Online) Egyptian club Zamalek are hosting Moroccan forward Hamid Ahaddad to finalize negotiations regarding his summer move.

    The 23-year-old, who plays for Difaa Hassani El Jadidi, scored 19 goals for the Moroccan side last season and has lately caught the attention of Zamalek officials.

    Zamalek won the Egypt Cup after finishing the Egyptian Premier League in the fourth place with 61 points, 27 behind winners Ahly, whom they will meet in the Super Cup.

  • Transfers: Former Morocco international Mounir El Hamdaoui has signed a two-year deal with Moroccan Botola Pro champions Ittihad Tanger

  • Press review: Herve Renard leads solid Morocco at World Cup aiming to extend impressive tournament record

    African nation did not concede any goals in qualifying and will look to build from the back during their campaign in Russia

    His "lucky" white shirts ironed and packed, Herve Renard sets off for the provincial city of Voronezh on Sunday hoping to maintain an impressive record in major tournaments.

    Renard will be at his first World Cup as a manager, in charge of a Morocco who have not been at the event for 20 years, but has his position because he knows how to navigate tough groups. In four attempts managing at Africa Cup of Nations, Renard has only once failed to guide a team beyond the first phase.

    His reputation is made from more than that, of course. Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast, three years later, both lifted the continent’s most prestigious prize under his watch, and his trademark white collared shirt became a most coveted garment on African touchlines.

    Morocco recruited him. Though they made only the last eight of the most recent Cup of Nations, in early 2017, Renard had the trust of his Federation.

    By the end of the year, Morocco had pushed ahead of the Ivorians - present at the last three World Cups - to reach Russia, and to bring to perhaps the toughest of all the first-round pools something Spain, Portugal and Iran would all envy: A succession of clean sheets as pristine as Renard’s shirts. They conceded no goals on the way to qualifying.

    Renard’s priority is to keep Iran goalless in Friday's opening match. He went into Saturday night’s final warm-up fixture against Estonia with a couple of pending decisions about how to organise a defence that is Morocco’s biggest strength.

    The goalkeeping position continues to provoke debate at home, but as Renard has continually pointed out, the arguments over whether Munir Mohamedi or Yassine Bounou should be given the gloves are quarrels based on blessings.

    Munir is the proud owner of the impeccable World Cup qualifying credentials: six games, six shut-outs. He kept another clean sheet in last week’s friendly in Switzerland against Ukraine. In club football, though, he has endured a frustrating season, consigned to the substitutes’ bench at Numancia, of the Spanish second division.

    By contrast, Bounou’s career has progressed at a pace, since his promotion as first-choice at Girona, of Spain’s Primera Liga. Renard gave Bounou the gloves for the 2-1 win against Slovakia on Monday although that, he reminded reporters, should not be read as a pointer to any change in heirarchy.

    At full-back, there is a concern over the fitness of Nabil Dirar, whose recuperation from injury has meant his missing the warm-up fixtures, in order that he is allowed to progress to fitness without risk.

    Renard describes a “little muscle problem” inhibiting the Fenerbahce right-back; the recovery has been extended long enough that it seems likely that Achraf Hakimi, the teenager from Real Madrid, is in pole position to fill the right-back role against Iran, probably in a back four, although Renard experimented with 3-5-2 in phases of the recent friendlies.

    Mehdi Benatia, the captain bearing last month’s Serie A and Italian Cup winners medals from a fine campaign at Juventus, remains the key man, both in marshalling that mean rearguard and at set-pieces going forward.

    Morocco have worked hard on their dead-ball scenarios and have a range of experts at delivering them, such as Hakim Ziyech, Younes Belhanda, Faycal Fajr and Al Jazira’s Mbark Boussoufa. “It will be a question of making the most of the few chances we will get," Renard said.

    “We will be tough, and that’s for sure,” Boussoufa said after the draw with Ukraine. He will operate in a midfield that is confident in possession and capable of providing good supply into the opposition penalty area, where the want of a high-calibre finisher is a concern.

    Encouragingly, Ayoub El Kaabi seems to making the jump from Moroccan domestic football comfortably and with good timing. The 23-year-old, from Berkane, has followed up his eye-catching nine goals for Morocco in the African Nations Championships - the tournament open only to Africans playing in African leagues - with goals in recent friendlies and looks a useful alternative up front to Khalid Boutaib.

    Renard needs an element of surprise, for his solid Morocco not to become too predictable, or that opponents suppose they can be closed down largely by suffocating the creative Ziyech.

    “The good thing,” Benatia said, “is that some of the younger players have shown what they can do in our friendlies.”

    El Kaabi, or 20-year-old Amine Harit, and Madrid’s Hakimi have a chance on the big stage to make themselves stars.


  • NT: Today marks a year unbeaten for Morocco

    The 10th of June marks exactly a year since Morocco lost their last official match, as they head into the 2018 World Cup as the form team among the African sides that qualified.

    Morocco’s last defeat came on June 10th 2017 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualification game away at Cameroon, following a disappointing start to the year that saw them lose a friendly to the Netherlands and exit the Africa Cup of Nations prematurely thanks to Kahraba’s goal in the quarter finals.

    Since the Cameroon game, Morocco have seen off Egypt,, Mali, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Nigeria, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine, although it should be noted that many of these were in CHAN in which teams can only select domestic based players.

    In that period, Morocco also qualified for the World Cup in a tough group with Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali, in which the Atlas Lions famously made it to the tournament without conceding a goal in the process.

    Morocco will be hoping to extend the unbeaten run when they take on Iran in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup on Friday 15th of June at 5PM Egyptian time, before they face off against European champions Portugal and 2010 World Cup winners Spain in the final group games.


  • Estonia 1-3 Morocco: Visitors finish World Cup preparation with win before tough group with Spain and Portugal

    Morocco rounded off their World Cup preparations with a comfortable 3-1 win over Estonia on Saturday evening.

    They are one of three North African sides to have qualified for the World Cup this year and they are hoping to progress through a difficult group.

    The Moroccans finished their pre-World Cup campaign with victory in Estonia, having already beaten Slovakia and drawing with Ukraine.

    Morocco dominated the game and proved they are comfortable in possession but continue to lack a cutting edge in front of goal, despite scoring three.

    They flew out of the blocks at the A. Le Coq Arena and within 11 minutes had taken the lead through Galatasary's Younes Belhanda.

    The forward latched onto a cross and hit the ball into the roof of the net, leaving the goalkeeper no chance.

    The visiting side continued to dominate the game and should have scored a hatful but were unable to find the net.

    Morocco, whose side mostly play in top European leagues, will have to work on their finishing if they are to upset Spain or Portugal at the World Cup, where they will surely be given significantly less sights of goal.

    The African side went 2-0 up on 38 minutes after star man Hakim Ziyech converted a penalty. The No 10 plays for Ajax and has been likened to his predecessor, Christian Eriksen.

    It was Amine Harit of Schalke who had been brought down in the box, just when he had opened up to fire up into a open goal.

    Estonia's goalkeeper, Aksalu, had elected to leave his post moments before and chased the ball out wide. However he was unable to prevent it being played into Harit.

    Midway through the second-half, Morocco added a third, despite a host of changes to their lineup.

    Malaga's Youssef En-Nesyri scored with relative ease after a cross dragged the goalkeeper out of position leaving the forward to find an empty net.

    Estonia pulled one back just four minutes later against the run of play. Ats Purje's shot bobbled through past Morocco's goalkeeper Mohamedi, who will feel his defence should have done better.

    Morocco will begin their World Cup against Iran on June 15, but the following two games will pit them against group favourites, Spain and Portugal.

    They will be confident going into the tournament and have proved they have strength in defence. But only a significant upset would see them progress.


    Estonia: Aksalu, Jürgenson, Kaljumae, Vihmann, Mets, Pikk, Kams, Dmitrijev, Vassiljev, Zenjov, Anier

    Subs: Kruglov, Purje, Liivak, Lepmets, Elhi, Antonov, Kuusk, Koskor, Avilov

    Scorer: Purje 76

    Morocco: Mohamedi, N Amrabat. Benatia, Saïss, Hakimi, El Ahmadi, Ziyech, Belhanda, Boussoufa, Harit, El Kaabi

    Subs: Bono, Mendyl, da Costa, Fajr, Boutaïb, Aït Bennasser, Dirar, En-Nesyri, Bouhaddouz, S Amrabat, Tagnaouti, Carcela-González, El Hajjam

    Scorers: Belhanda 11, Ziyech 38 pen, En-Nesyri 72


  • Team Melli can stun Morocco: Carlos Queiroz

    TEHRAN – Head coach of Iran national football team Carlos Queiroz says they are ready to stun Morocco in the 2018 World Cup.

    Iran, making their fifth appearance in the World Cup finals, kick off their campaign against the Atlas Lions in St Petersburg on June 15.

    Carlos Queiroz’s side, meanwhile, face Spain in Kazan on 20 June before meeting Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Saransk five days later.

    “We have the potential to stun Morocco in our first match because we know the team very well but they know nothing about us, then we can stun them,” Queiroz told reporters on Saturday in Moscow.

    Queiroz, however, criticized his team’s preparation for the World Cup, saying the prestigious event has not been the first priority for the Iranian fans, media and officials.

    “We participate in the 2018 World Cup while we could not carry out our program. We had to choose World Cup or AFC Champions League and I think the Iranians chose the second one. I respect other people’s opinions but I don’t agree with them,” ex-Real Madrid coach added.

    “Iran have been drawn in the hardest group in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and we needed more preparation but the officials didn’t really take the competition into consideration,” Queiroz stated.

    “We will make our best efforts in Russia but to get the best results you should have an adequate preparation. Anyway, with only six days remaining to our first game, we want to concentrate just on Morocco match,” the Portuguese said.


  • NT: El Hajjam on Morocco standby as Dirar struggles for fitness

    TALLINN (Reuters) – Morocco have put French-born defender Oualid El Hajjam on standby as a potential injury replacement for the World Cup as right back Nabil Dirar continues to battle with a calf problem on the eve of the finals, officials said on Saturday.

    Dirar has been ruled out of Morocco’s final warm-up against Estonia in Tallinn on Saturday, meaning he has now missed all three friendlies played by the north Africans over the last fortnight before heading to Russia, where they have testing assignments in Group B against Iran, Portugal and Spain.

    The 32-year-old Dirar, who plays for Fenerbahce in Turkey, had been a regular for Morocco in their successful qualifying campaign and scored in the decisive match in the preliminaries away against the Ivory Coast last November.

    El Hajjam made his debut for Morocco in a friendly against Uzbekistan in March but was not named in the 23-man squad for Russia by coach Herve Renard.

    The 27-year-old plays for Amiens in France and came into the reckoning for the Morocco national side after an inaugural season playing in Ligue 1.

  • NT: Morocco beat Estonia 3-1 in friendly

    Final Whistle!

    94' Corner for Morocco taken by Belhanda

    92+2' El Kaabi shoots in the hands of the goalkeeper

    4 minutes of additional time

    All goals so far: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhVJ4CV7Ljs

    82' Header of Da Costa in the hands of the goalkeeper

    82' Corner for Morocco taken by Boussoufa

    81' Corner for Estonia

    76' Khalid Boutaib replaced Achraf Hakimi

    75' Purje scores for Estonia 3-1

    72' Morocco score again by Youssef En-Nesiry

    71' Free-kick for Morocco

    69' En-Nesiry caught off-side

    68' Free-kick for Estonia

    67' Purje from Estonia booked for foul on Achraf Hakimi

    63' Youssef Ait Bennasser replaced Karim El Ahmadi

    63' Soufyan Amrabat replaced his older brother Nordin

    60' Chance for Estonia but easy in the hands of Munir

    54' Great save from Munir

    53' Free-kick for Estonia and Amrabat booked

    52' Free-kick for Morocco

    48' En-Nesiry shoots in the hans of the goalkeeper

    Aziz Bouhaddouz replaced Hakim Ziyech

    Youssef En-Nesiry replaced Amine Harit

    Marouane Da Costa replaced Mehdi Benatia

    Second half underway!

    Half Time!

    See all goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx5HX4D2SvY

    45' Corner for Estonia

    44' Free-kick for Estonia

    42' Amine Harit hit the post

    39' Corner for Estonia

    38' Hakim Ziyech scores for Morocco their second goal from penalty spot

    37' Penalty for Morocco

    36' Saiss shoots in the hands of the goalkeeper

    36' Corner for Morocco taken by Belhanda

    32' Corner for Estonia

    31' El Kaabi shoots wide

    30' Free-kick for Morocco taken by Boussoufa

    28' Corner for Morocco taken by Ziyech

    25' Free-kick for Estonia

    22' Corner for Morocco taken by Ziyech

    11' Great goal from Belhanda gives Morocco the 1-0 lead against Estonia

    See goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuyNmKYW4U4

    9' Corner for Morocco taken by Boussoufa

    7' Belhanda shoots on target but in the hands of the goalkeeper

    4' Amrabat's cross missed target

    2' Amine Harit shoots wide

    Match is underway!

    Competition: Friendly

    Location: Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia

    Kickoff: 16h00 GMT, 18h00 CET

    Morocco vs Estonia: Starting line up:

    12.Munir El Kajoui-5.Mehdi Benatia (C)-6.Ghanim Saiss-2.Achraf Hakimi-16.Nordin Amrabat-8.Karim El Ahmadi-14.Mbark Boussoufa-10.Younes Belhanda-7.Hakim Ziyech-18.Amine Harit-9.Ayoub El Kaabi


    Yassine Bounou-Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti-Marouane Da Costa-Fayçal Fajr-Soufyan Amrabat-Aziz Bouhaddouz-Youssef Ait Bennasser-Mehdi Carcela-Youssef En-Nesiry-Khalid Boutaib-Nabil Dirar-Oualid El Hajjam-Hamza Mendyl

    Coach: Herve Renard

    Live streaming video: http://www.yalla-shoot.com/live/13776/estonia-vs-morocco.html


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