• NT: Morocco captain Benatia reflects on gutsy win over Serbia

    (Africanfootball.com) Morocco captain Medhi Benatia has urged his troops to remain humble after defeating Serbia on Friday.

    The Atlas Lions stunned the Eagles of Serbia 2-1 in an international friendly match which was played at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino in Torino, Italy.

    Hakimi Ziyech and Khalid Boutaib both scored for Morocco, while Dusan Tadic netted for Serbia on the night.

    Benatia, who plies his trade in the Italian Serie A for Juventus, urged his team-mates to continue working hard as they prepare for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.

    "Not everything has been perfect, but a lot of positive to rely on," he said on his twitter account.

    "We must continue to work with humility to be ready for Russia," the defender added.

    "I want to thank all the Moroccans who made the trip (to Italy)," the 30-year-old concluded.

    The Atlas Lions will now take on Uzbekistan in another friendly match at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Tuesday.

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  • Herve Renard: Some very good things in win over Serbia

    Morocco coach Herve Renard said his side did some “very good things” in their 2-1 win over Serbia on Friday night.

    The Atlas Lions defeated their fellow World Cup qualifiers in Turin thanks to first-half goals from Hakim Ziyech and Khalid Boutaib.

    "There have been some very good things,” said Renard after the match.

    “We started the game badly the first five minutes, and then during the game, we realised that tonight had to be present in the duels and we kept the ball afterwards.

    “We frustrated them by doing an effective defensive job. Collectively, we are in focus.

    “We saw tonight, it was a technically higher tone, so we'll have to go further and apply a bit more. Congratulations to the players,” concluded the Frenchman.

    Morocco will play their second friendly in this international window when they host Uzbekistan in Casablanca on Tuesday evening.

    https://africanfootball.com//news/745357/Morocco-coach-Herve-Renard-Some-very-good-things-in-win-over-Serbia

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  • Transfers: Lazaar confirms MLS talks

    By Football Italia

    Achraf Lazaar confirms he could leave Benevento, on loan from Newcastle United, for a move to MLS. “I want to be at the World Cup with Morocco.”

    The 26-year-old wing-back has struggled for playing time this season, first at Newcastle and then on loan with €3.5m option to buy with Serie A bottom club Benevento.

    “Representing my country is the greatest satisfaction and I want to be at the World Cup with Morocco, as that would be a dream. Now I’ll do everything I can to earn my chance,” Lazaar told Gazzamercato.it.

    “Unfortunately, I’ve been pushed out of the Benevento squad. Coming here was a bad decision and I wouldn’t do it again, even if I got to know the extraordinary President Vigorito. I still respect him, despite the decision they have made.

    “I have nothing against Coach Roberto De Zerbi, as he made his choices. I belong to Newcastle and must think about what is best for my career and right now I need playing time.

    “I can confirm that there are three clubs who are interested in MLS, but I prefer to respect those clubs and not name the ones who contacted me.

    “It’s not easy purely in terms of red tape to go to America, but with my new agent Roberto De Fanti we are seeking the best solution.

    “I really miss the Morocco squad, as I played during the qualifiers for the World Cup and will do everything to get my place in the side.

    “I haven’t been the usual Lazaar in recent months, but I have matured a great deal. I was a kid when I first became known and now I am a man.”

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  • NT: Morocco to play friendlies with Slovakia and Estonia ahead of World Cup

    (TheAtlasLions.com) According to local media, Morocco will play Slovakia & Estonia (confirmed 9th of June) in June as last preparation before World Cup.

    Update: Estonian FA confirms the friendly on June 9th.

    http://jalgpall.ee/koondis/1/uudised/eesti-voorustab-mm-finaalturniiril-mangivat-koondist-n13551

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  • Transfers: Roma set sights on Ziyech

    By Football Italia

    Roma are preparing a summer swoop for Ajax and Morocco creative midfielder Hakim Ziyech, claims the Corriere dello Sport.

    He turned 25 this week and has long been on the wish-list of Giallorossi sporting director Monchi.

    It’s reported the trequartista, who can also play on the left wing, is a prime target for next season.

    Ziyech has contributed an impressive eight goals and 12 assists in just 28 Eredivisie games this term.

    He also has seven goals in 13 senior caps for Morocco, but has an EU passport as he was born and raised in the Netherlands.

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  • 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.

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  • 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."

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  • 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

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeR80eTn694

    37' Tadic makes it 1-1 for Serbia

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

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaBTFilah1A

    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.

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  • 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.

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

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