• WC 2018: Adidas to Unveil New Design for Morocco’s 2018 World Cup Kits in May

    (Morocco World News) Rabat – Angry comments of Moroccan football fans have not gone unnoticed. The German-based multinational cooperation, Adidas, will release a new design of the official kits of the Moroccan national team for the 2018 World Cup. Adidas will release the new design between May 22-24.

    In an interview with Moroccan TV channel 2M, FRMF spokesman Mohamed Makrouf announced that the new design is being prepared and will be officially released between May 22-24.

    The official kits for the Moroccan team shall be featured during a press conference in the presence of media and a group of Moroccan footballers.

    In recent weeks, Moroccans have been expressing their anger over the Adidas design for the Atlas Lions jerseys. The public has shaken networking services, including Twitter and Facebook, mocking the uniforms.

    Moroccan football fans were not the only ones to denounce the Adidas design kits. Former Moroccan footballer Abdeslam Ouaddou also voiced his concern over the kits, asserting that they require further development. Slamming Adidas, Ouaddou said that the company should have devoted more time and energy to an appropriate design suitable to the Moroccan public.

    After the online storm, news sources speculate that FRMF president may cancel the contract with Adidas for non-compliance with the contract term, according to Moroccan newspaper Assabah.

    Adidas’s executive committee agreed to delay the official release of the Atlas Lions’ World Cup jersey to avoid forgery.

    Citing Adidas’s concerns, Al Massae added that there might be “counterfeit duplication of the kits” if uncovered before the opening of the Russia FIFA tournament.

    Adidas unveiled the first version of the kits on April 26. The jerseys are simple: mostly white with accents red and green, representing the Moroccan flag.

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  • CAF CL: Champions League holders Wydad open group campaign with draw at Sundowns

    (BBC Sports) African Champions League title-holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco survived a late siege by Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday to force a 1-1 draw in their opening match of Group C.

    Sundowns made a perfect start to the fixture by going ahead within three minutes..

    Ivorian Cheick Comara turned a Sibusiso Vilakazi cross into his net, although the goal was awarded only after the Cameroon referee overruled his assistant who had signalled a corner.

    Wydad responded on 20 minutes when Ismail el Haddad darted forward to nod a cross past Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango.

    El Haddad's goal came as several Sundowns defenders stood still, believing the ball had crossed the line before being floated into the goalmouth.

    Rattled by the goal, Sundowns were lucky not to fall behind soon after when Wydad captain Brahim Nakach surged into the box only to blaze wide.

    The second half failed to live up to the first 45 minutes as Wydad lost energy and wasted time whenever possible.

    Mouloudia had Zidane Mebarakou sent-off early in the second half against Difaa el Jadida and fell behind after 77 minutes when Hamid Ahaddad of Jadida scored his seventh Champions League goal this season.

    Amir Karaoui equalised with eight minutes remaining in Algiers for Mouloudia, who had scored 15 goals at home in two qualifiers.

    Jadida are playing in the group phase for the first time and hope to emulate Moroccan clubs Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca and FAR Rabat by winning the elite African club competition.

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  • Gattuso: ‘Not too late for Mastour’

    By Football Italia

    Milan Coach Gennaro Gattuso says Hachim Mastour “became more famous for making videos than playing” but “I’ve noticed a few improvements”.

    The 19-year-old was expected to be a future star, with videos of his tricks and dribbling going viral.

    However, he’s still to make a single Serie A appearance for the Rossoneri and he failed to make the breakthrough at either Malaga or PEC Zwolle.

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  • 2018 World Cup: Friendly Morocco-Ukraine To Be Rescheduled

    By Morocco World News -

    Rabat – Save the date, Morocco-Ukraine friendly game has been postponed to Thursday, May 31.

    Morocco’s national football team will play its first pre-World Cup friendly against Ukraine on Thursday, May 31, at the Geneva stadium in Switzerland, instead of Wednesday, May 30 as initially planned, has announced the FRMF, without any further explanation.

    The second friendly game against Slovakia will also take place in Switzerland, on June 4. As for the third, it will be in Estonia against the local national football team on June 9.

    The Moroccan team has already played two pre-World Cup friendly matches against Serbia and Uzbekistan, winning 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.

    These friendly games will evaluate the team’s weaknesses and strengths, allowing them to better prepare for the world’s premier football tournament.

    When the tournament begins on June 14, the Atlas Lions will first battle Iran on June 15. The team will face Portugal in their second game on June 20, while the final first-round match for Morocco will be against Spain on June 25.

    Moving forward, Hervé Renard is very confident about his team, which he says is “really solid with a great collectivity.” On May 14, the French coach will unveil his draft list of 35 names, before releasing his final list on June 4.

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  • Transfers: Ziyech wants to leave Ajax: “I need a new challenge”

    The midfielder has been widely expected to leave Ajax after this season, despite having a contract until 2021. The midfielder has contributed nine goals and fifteen assists in the Eredivisie this season but has a turbulent relationship with a section of Ajax fans.

    Speaking to Algemeen Dagblad, Ziyech confirmed his wish to leave Amsterdam after two-years at Ajax, “I need a new challenge. At some point, it is time to go. Of course, I also played lesser games, but I just feel that I need a trigger in a different environment.”

    Ziyech doesn’t believe Ajax will stand in his way, “When I came here I said that I wanted to continue looking after two years. I have also discussed this with Marc (Overmars). If everything is right for Ajax and for me, then I can not see it go wrong. ”

    The 25-year-old joined Ajax from FC Twente in 2016 and has since made 80 appearances, netting 19 times and contributing 35 assists.

    http://www.football-oranje.com/ziyech-wants-leave-ajax-need-new-challenge/

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  • Transfers: OGC Nice Eyes Moroccan Footballer Sofiane Boufal

    By Morocco World News

    Rabat – Moroccan football player Sofiane Boufal has caught the attention of the French club OGC Nice.

    After being suspended from Southampton Premier League following a fight with his coach Mark Hughes, the Atlas Lion is on the verge of leaving his club at the end of the season.

    Boufal may return to the Premier League, where he shined under the colors of LOSC.

    According 10 Sport, OGC Nice is interested in the 24-year-old player, who is now training with the under-23 years. However, nothing has been made official, as there are no active negotiations at the moment.

    If Boufal is recruited by the French club, he will be following the footsteps of French-Moroccan attacking midfielder Younès Belhanda, who, before joining the Galatasaray Turkish football club, was playing for OGC Nice in 2016.

    Boufal has had his ups and downs with Southampton since he arrived in the summer of 2016, after trading from LOSC for nearly EUR 19 million.

    Born in Paris, Boufal came through the youth system at Angers and made his debut in the French second division at the age of 18. The following season, he became a first-team regular.

    Lille paid EUR 4 million for the Moroccan player in January 2015, which he quickly repaid with his speed and dribbling.

    Boufal first attracted the attention of top European clubs in 2016, when Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Paris Saint-Germain, and Inter Milan all reported expressed interest.

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  • 2018 World Cup: Hervé Renard Will ‘Carry the Moroccan Flag as High as Possible’

    By Morocco World News

    Rabat – A few weeks before the beginning of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Hervé Renard is letting the world know about his determination to take the Atlas Lions as far as possible in the competition.

    In an exclusive interview with France 24, the French coach commented on his team’s 2018 World Cup qualification, discussed his experience as a coach, and expressed his dream of seeing “an African team qualify for the semi-finals.”

    During the interview, Renard shared that he hopes to carry “the Moroccan flag as high as possible” as he praised the “magnificent” national team, especially Mehdi Benatia, who he qualified as “an admirable captain.”

    “We have an exceptional state of mind. There is something really solid here. The strength of this team is its collectivity,” he said, adding that he is very grateful to be surrounded by the “right people,” thanking the the Moroccan football federation (FRMF) for putting him in the “best conditions.”

    The former Ivory Coast coach remains concerned about the World Cup preparation that will take place in the last week of Ramadan.

    “Ramadan [last year] was the most catastrophic [training] period since I arrived in Morocco,” he stated, explaining that the team preparations were poorly managed. “We’ll have to be better this time,” he concluded.

    As the interview went on, Renard mentioned Ayoub El Kaabi, the rising star of the Atlas Lions, “has made a tremendous African Championship.”

    “Today, he must cross a new path that is very high. We are putting pressure on him,” said the very determined coach, who has shared that he is very proud to be “representing Morocco.”

    Renard concluded his interview with optimism: “Morocco can get the organization of the World 2026. It would be great for Moroccan football and I believe it!”

    The tournament will begin on June 14. The Moroccan team will first play against Iran on June 15, while the second game will be against Portugal on June 20. Morocco will then play its last game of the first round of the tournament against Spain on June 25.

    On May 14, the coach will unveil his draft list of 35 names, before releasing his final list on June 4.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Hakim Ziyech Named Ajax Amsterdam Player of the Year

    Morocco World News – After leading Ajax Amsterdam to a major win over AZ Alkmaar (3-0), the Moroccan attacker Hakim Ziyech received the Ajax Amsterdam “Player of the Year” award, for his excellent season, skills and performance.

    At the reception following the match, Hakim declared that the award took him by surprise.

    Erik Ten Hag, Ajax Amsterdam’s manager expressed his ultimate satisfaction with Ziyech: “Hakim is an artist on the field” has declared Erik, “I would want nothing more than to keep him for Ajax.”

    Ziyech has confirmed his will to leave Ajax Amsterdam for an unknown destination, with hopes of exploring himself, as he has stated “I think I’m ready to leave, I’ve said it many times, it’s not new. I want to challenge myself and develop myself, so maybe it’s time to go further and find a new challenge.”

    Numerous European clubs are interested in recruiting the Moroccan footballer, including, Inter Milan and AS Rome. The two Italian clubs have been monitoring Ziyech’s performance and considering signing him since last winter.

    However, the two clubs’ hopes of recruiting the attacker failed, as his value is predicted to rise in a notable way after the Russian World Cup.

    The Italian club Inter Milan has been in negotiation with Ajax, since the fourth quarter of 2016, as the board members have made an offer of 15 EU million to hire Ziyech. Other European countries have expressed their intentions in recruiting the talented player, namely, Liverpool, Dortmund, and Marseille.

    In terms of statistics, the talented Atlas Lion, known for his technique in dribbling and free kick ability, has scored nine goals and 15 assists this season. In total, Ziyech has scored 19 goals with Ajax since his debut with the club in 2016.

    With those kind of stats, there’s reason to wonder: will Ziyech be crowned Netherlands best player of the year?

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  • Renard: Morocco Determined to Avoid 1st Round Elimination in World Cup 2018

    (Morocco World News) Rabat – The coach of the Moroccan national football team, Hervé Renard has reaffirmed his determination to achieve an “honorable course” with his Atlas Lions during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    In an interview with international sports outlet Goal, Renard said that it will be very disappointing if his team leaves the World Cup green field in the first phase of the tournament.

    “To go further in this competition, we will go to make the best possible tournament, not to participate only.” According to Renard, Morocco’s disqualification in the first round “would be a huge disappointment for Morocco.

    Renard also discussed strengths of the teams that Morocco will confront during the first round: Spain, Portugal, and Iran.

    “For Spain, it has a talented workforce.,” ‘ said Renard, adding that “We should be on our guard.”

    “It is one of the World Cup favorites.”

    Commenting on Portugal, Renard suggested that he will not “minimize the impact” of Cristiano Ronaldo, but rather “evaluate and analyze and give it all the importance it deserves.”

    For the list of 23 players that will be in Russia, Renard said: “90 percent of the list is already established.”

    There is still 10 percent that can vary depending on injuries and last minute unavailability.

    The coach also commented on the case of Moroccan-Spanish footballer Munir El Haddadi, who expressed his desire to play with the Moroccan team in Russia.

    “You have followed the case. Everything was said.”

    There is a small chance this will happen in the World Cup, he added.

    For several months, El Haddadi and Morocco’s Royal Football Federation have attempted to convince FIFA to give El Haddadi the chance to represent Morocco in the World Cup.

    El Haddadi represented Spain at the youth level and made a brief appearance as a substitute in an international game against Macedonia with the Spanish national team in 2014, which ruined his eligibility for the Moroccan national football team, according to the FIFA eligibility committee.

    El Haddadi currently plays for the Spanish club Alaves, where he is on loan from Barcelona during the 2017-2018 season.

    The tournament will begin on June 14. The Moroccan team will first play against Iran on June 15, while the second game will be against Portugal on June 20. Morocco will then play its last game for the first round of the tournament against Spain on June 25.

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  • Moroccans Abroad: Sofiane Boufal out in the cold after Mark Hughes bust-up

    (The Guardian) Sofiane Boufal has been banished from Southampton’s first team after an altercation with Mark Hughes during the Premier League defeat by Chelsea and will not be considered for Saturday’s game against Bournemouth.

    The Morocco midfielder, a £16m club-record signing from Lille in 2016, was a substitute against Chelsea at St Mary’s and is understood to have refused to warm up when Hughes instructed him to do so. That apparently led to a clash in the dressing room after Southampton, who had led 2-0 with 20 minutes to play, were beaten 3-2 – since when Boufal has not been in the squad.

    “Unfortunately, Sofi made a mistake, which he acknowledged and he has acknowledged to me since,” said Hughes, who is alleged to have lost his temper with Boufal post-match, with some reports suggesting he threw a water bottle.

    “At the moment he’s training with the under-23s. He’s missed a few days’ training because he was ill but, given where we are at the moment, he’s probably best served training with a different group just to make people aware the situation we found ourselves in wasn’t what should have happened.

    “He understands that now. He probably needs to rebuild a bit of trust with us and his team-mates. That’s what we’re working on. He won’t be involved this weekend. We’ll have to wait and see [whether he can return this season].”

    Hughes, who succeeded Mauricio Pellegrino in mid-March with Southampton having won once in the league since late November, has made clear the need for focus as he attempts to instigate a late revival.

    In that context, Boufal’s reaction could not be tolerated, leaving a player who started the new manager’s first two games but has only two goals and two assists in 26 league appearances this season, an outcast for the foreseeable future.

    “I spoke about focus on the very first day in the job here,” Hughes said. “We can’t allow anything to distract us from the task at hand. We have very few games left. If I feel something might affect that focus, I have to address that.

    “That’s the situation we find ourselves in with Sofi. He made a mistake. He’s remorseful about it, which he needed to be, and we’ll build him back up to be in the group again. But the time for that isn’t now. It’s about him biding his time, doing the right things, until he’s reintegrated.”

    Hughes, who signed a deal until the end of the season, is increasingly resigned to being without his influential midfielder Steven Davis after the 33-year-old sustained an achilles injury.

    “It’s an irritant to him and to us, clearly,” the manager said. “He’ll have a couple of days’ training and then it flares up again. We’ll see where we go with it. We’ve had him scanned and they’ve shown damage in the achilles, so maybe we have to shut him down until next season. I don’t think that’s definitive yet but it’s maybe close.”

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