• CHAN 2018: Morocco ease past Mauritania 4-0 in opening match

    (BBC Africa sport) Wydad Casablanca's Achraf Bencharki scored in Morocco's opening victory over Mauritania at CHAN 2018.

    Hosts Morocco needed 65 minutes to break down a stubborn Mauritanian defence in the opening match of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Casablanca on Saturday, before winning 4-0.

    Poor weather meant the stadium was not at capacity for the Group A clash and those who were there saw a disappointing first half from Morocco.

    Despite the hosts' domination, they could not muster an effort on target in the first 45 minutes due to poor finishing and bad crossing.

    Morocco made their pressure pay in the final 25 minutes with Ayoub El Kaabi scoring either side of a goal from Ismail El Haddad, before Achraf Bencharki flicked home a fourth in injury time.

    The tournament, which is for African footballers based in their own domestic leagues, features 16 teams with the final on 4 February.

    Before the match, Mauritania's' coach Corentin Martins said his side could not simply defend and that they would have to try and attack as well, which is what his team tried to do early on.

    Mauritania were forced into a rethink in the first half as their defenders were caught out trying to push too far up field.

    The local Atlas Lions were unable to convert their dominance and in fact it was Mauritania who had the only shot on target in the first half with a long range effort that was easily saved by Anas Zniti in the Moroccan goal.

    In the second-half Mauritania's keeper Brahim Souleimane further frustrated Morocco with two excellent saves from close range.

    He was finally beaten when he rushed out to try and save at the feet of El Kaabi who calmly slotted the ball under him to score.

    Souleimane will feel he should have saved El Haddad's shot for the second goal on 72 minutes as the ball somehow dipped under his outstretched hand.

    El Kaabi found himself in plenty of space eight minutes later and had time to pick a spot with a low shot across the keeper.

    The win was completed in injury time by Bencharki, who as a member of the full Moroccan national squad surprisingly started on the bench, as he managed to flick the ball home from the tightest of angles.

    The other Group A game is on Sunday when Guinea play Sudan.

    Next up for Morocco is Guinea while Mauritania face Sudan, both matches are on Wednesday in Casablanca.

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  • Transfers: Zinedine Machach joins Napoli

    (sscnapoli.it) Napoli have completed the signing of 22-year-old French midfielder Zinedine Machach from Toulouse.

    Born in Marseille on 5 January 1996, Machach made his Ligue 1 debut for Toulouse in the 2015/16 season at the age of 19, making 17 appearances in his maiden season. He spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Marseille.

    In total, Machach has made Ligue 1 38 appearances, scoring three goals.

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  • CHAN 2018: Hosts Morocco hammer Mauritania in dream debut

    (AFP) Hosts and title favourites Morocco ran riot in the second half to defeat neighbours Mauritania 4-0 Saturday in the opening match of the 2018 African Nations Championship.

    Ayoub el Kaabi broke brave resistance from the Mauritanians on 66 minutes and Ismail el Haddad added a second goal six minutes later at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca.

    El Kaabi bagged a brace 10 minutes from time before being substituted as Morocco made an impressive start in Group A, where Guinea tackle Sudan Sunday at the same venue.

    Morocco started with three of 2017 CAF Champions League-winning Wydad Casablanca team, but only brought on star attackers Achraf Bencharki and Walid el Karti in the closing stages.

    Bencharki completed the rout with a stoppage-time goal as Morocco came within one goal of matching the record winning margin at the tournament set by Tunisia two years ago.

    Victory for the hosts brought a cheerful end to a sad day for Moroccan football with former star Hamid Hazzaz dying of a heart attack aged 72 just hours before the tournament began.

    Known as "The Spider", Hazzaz was part of the Morocco 1970 World Cup squad and the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations for the only time six years later.

    A colourful opening ceremony preceded the first match and 14-year-old crown prince Moulay el Hassan got the tournament under way with a symbolic kick-off.

    The young royal also shook hands with each player and the match officials and posed for team pictures with the Moroccans and Mauritanians.

    Staged every two years, the Nations Championship is restricted to home-based footballers and the Democratic Republic of Congo (twice), Tunisia and Libya won previous editions.

    In other Sunday fixtures, the Ivory Coast play debutants Namibia and Zambia face Uganda in Group B in Marrakech.

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  • CHAN 2018: MOROCCO BEAT MAURITANIA 4-0

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco CHAN Team beat Mauritania by 4-0 in the opening match of the CHAN 2018 in Casablanca on Saturday.

    Morocco goals were scored by El Kaabi x2, El Haddad and Bencherki.

    See all goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEjygiogLy0

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  • NT: Super Cup hero Azaro hopes Ahly will be gateway to World Cup place with Morocco

    (Ahram-Online.com) Walid Azaro came in for stinging criticism by many Ahly fans for his profligacy during his early days with the club but he is now winning over them and enjoying a fine run that he hopes will result in a Morocco call-up for the World Cup.

    The 22-year-old joined Ahly last summer from Morocco's Difaa El-Jadida but initially struggled to break into the team's starting line-up.

    However, his pace and physique prompted coach Hossam El-Badry to rely on him and has grasped his chance with both hands, becoming Ahly's number one choice upfront.

    His wastefulness was singled out by many Ahly supporters though but he continues to defy critics, becoming the team's top scorer with nine goals in 15 appearances in the Egyptian Premier League.

    His league goals included the third in a 3-0 Cairo derby win over Zamalek last Monday and he was the hero in Friday's Egyptian Super Cup in the United Arab Emirates, robbing the Masry keeper in extra time to score the winner and give Ahly a 10th title.

    Azaro believes he now has the backing of the ever-demanding Ahly supporters.

    "Ahly fans always help and support me and I'm trying to take advantage of that to shine and score more goals," Azaro told Abu Dhabi Sports TV channel following Friday's Super Cup game.

    "We fulfilled our target after a difficult and strong match against Masr."

    World Cup dream

    Azaro is hoping his current form will help him play at the World Cup with Morocco.

    He has earned three international caps with the Atlas Lions so far, featuring in two friendly games and one African Cup of Nations qualifier.

    "I have a big ambition to achieve with Ahly and I'm not considering leaving as I'm already committed to the best team in Africa. Ahly will be my door to play with Morocco at the World Cup in Russia," said Azaro.

    Ahly currently lie second in the Egyptian league table with 39 points, one behind leaders Ismaily with the Reds still having a game in hand.

    Azaro is the third among Egyptian league scorers this season, two goals behind top scorer and Maqassa striker John Antwi.

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  • Transfes: Labyad set to follow Ten Hag and sign for Ajax?

    (Football-Oranje.com) According to Voetbal International, Ajax are working to sign Zakaria Labyad from Utrecht this month.

    Labyad is expecting to leave Utrecht this month with the midfielder hoping for a move to one of Netherlands top three clubs. It now appears that he will be joining former Utrecht boss Erik Ten Hag in Amsterdam, with Ajax working on a deal to sign the Moroccan.

    According to VI, Ajax have made their interest known to Utrecht, and are working to complete the deal quickly in order to fend off other clubs.

    Labyad started his career with PSV Eindhoven before spells with Sporting Lisbon, Vitesse and Fulham. The 24-year-old moved to Utrecht in 2017 and rediscovered his best form under Ten Hag. In 42 appearances, Labyad has scored 13 goals and contributed 12 assists.

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  • Transfers: AS Roma make Hakim Ziyech their main transfer target.

    http://www.giallorossi.net/monchi-al-futuro-ziyech-e-seri/

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  • Transfers: Abdelhamid El Kaoutari is reported joining Wydad Casablanca according to Moroccan sources.

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  • WC 2026: Morocco 2026 World Cup bid hires international consultants

    (AP) LONDON — The Morocco 2026 World Cup bid, which has presented scarce details with six months until the vote, has hired international strategy consultants.

    London-based VERO, which worked on Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid, says it will “shape the vision” of the expanded 48-team tournament in Morocco.

    Its only rival for the 2026 World Cup is a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada which presented its first plans last April. Morocco announced its bid with a two-sentence statement in August, and is yet to provide details of host cities or stadiums.

    Morocco previously bid for the World Cup in 1998 and 2010, and the north African nation has been accused of bribery on both occasions by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its investigation into FIFA corruption.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Mehdi Benatia crowned Maghreb Player of the Year 2017

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Congratulations to Medhi Benatia who is crowned Maghreb player of the year 2017 by france football!

    Hakim Ziyech claimed the third place behind Riyad Mahrez of Algeria.

    1. Mehdi Benatia (Juventus/Maroc)

    2. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester/Algérie)

    3. Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam/Maroc)

    4. Faouzi Ghoulam (Naples/Algérie)

    5. Youssef Msakni (Lekhwyia/Tunisie)

    6. Ali Maaaloul (Al-Ahly/Tunisie)

    7. Wahbi Khazri (Rennes/Tunisie)

    8. Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahçe/Maroc)

    9. Sofiane Hanni (Anderlecht/Algérie)

    Read more...

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