• WC 2026: Morocco appoint minister to chair 2026 World Cup bid committee

    RABAT, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- As part of the preparation for Morocco's bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the Moroccan king Mohammed VI has chosen Minister of Industry and Investment Hafid Elalamy to chair the country's bid committee, the official MAP news agency said on Wednesday.

    Elalamy's work consists in providing all the necessary support to the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) and the specific division created within the FRMF, in accordance with FIFA guidelines and specifications, the same source pointed out.

    He will act as the government's interlocutor for FIFA and will, hence, be in charge of coordinating the action performed by the various departments concerned.

    Last August, Morocco submitted their application to host the 2026 World Cup to the world football governing body FIFA, positioning themselves as the sole challenger to the joint submission from Canada, Mexico and the United States.

    This is Morocco's fifth bid to host the World Cups, after their unsuccessful bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions of the tournament.

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  • Morocco coach: We want a new feat for out football in 2018

    (Africanfootball.com) The coach of Morocco’s locally-based national team, Jamal Sellami, has declared a desire to gain yet more glory for the country’s football at the upcoming African Nations Championship (CHAN).

    The year 2017 was a great one for Moroccan football, with the senior nation team - led by coach Herve Renard - securing a return to the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998, while Wydad Casablanca won the CAF Champions Leagu

    Following CAF’s decision to hand Morocco hosting rights for the 2018 CHAN (after stripping Kenya of the duty), the locally-based Atlas Lions now have a chance to add to the country’s growing list of football achievements.

    "The year 2017 has witnessed the great awakening of Moroccan football and its return to the forefront of the continental and international scenes,” Sellami told MAP.

    "Far from putting pressure on the players, the qualification to the World Cup 2018 in Russia and the coronation of WAC in the Champions League is a motivation for players to apply to the maximum and to fill the list of exploits by a new coronation.”

    Morocco will open the tournament with their first Group A match against Mauritania on Saturday evening at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca.

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  • Morocco: Wydad Casablanca sack coach Amotta

    (BBC Sport) Hussein Amotta has been sacked by African Champions League winners Wydad Casablanca after a poor first half of the season.

    Amotta, who also won the Moroccan league in 2017, was on the final shortlist for the Confederation of African Football's (Caf) Coach of the Year award.

    He lost out to Egypt's Argentine coach Hector Cuper, who lead the Pharaohs to the World Cup finals, last Friday. Nigeria's German boss Gernot Rohr was the other nominee.

    "After the bad results, the club's board held a meeting on Tuesday and decided to end the contract of head coach Hussein Amotta and his technical staff," a club statement read.

    In the defence of their Moroccan title, Wydad are 12th in the 16-team league - some 13 points behind leaders Hassania Agadir, who have played a game more.

    A 2-1 loss to Kawkab Marrakech on Monday was Wydad's second league loss in a row and their 6th in fourteen league games this season.

    "The board appreciates the work of the coach after he led the team to win the Moroccan championship, the African Champions League and a place at the Club World Cup," the statement continued.

    "We respect the coach but we are all working for Wydad and so that's why we took the decision to end Hussein Amotta's contract and we wish him all the best."

    Amotta was appointed as Wydad coach in January 2017 when he replaced Frenchman Sebestien Desabre, who took over at Egyptian club Ismaili before being named Uganda coach.

    Although Amotta missed out on the coach's award Wydad were named the Caf Club of the Year.

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  • Report: Newcastle hope to sign Real Madrid's Achraf Hakimi on loan in January

    Newcastle United are hoping to sign the exciting young Real Madrid defender in January.

    Borja Mayoral of Real Madrid celebrates with Achraf Hakimi after scoring his team's 3rd goal during the Copa del Rey match between Numancia and Real Madrid at Nuevo Estadio Los Pajarito on...

    According to reports from the Sunday Express (printed edition; 07/01/2018 – page 39), Newcastle United are hoping to sign Achraf Hakimi on loan in January.

    The 19-year-old is an exciting young right-back for Real Madrid, and has been attracting interest from clubs like Sporting Lisbon and Real Betis.

    He is a highly talented young defender, and has already made six international appearances for his country, Morocco.

    Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United during the The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Luton Town at St James' Park on January 6, 2018 in Newcastle upon...

    Hakimi spent a large part of his youth career at Madrid, and made his senior debut in October last year. At this moment, he is seen mainly as a backup to Dani Carvajal.

    The youngster played 90 minutes of both Real Madrid’s Champions League games against Tottenham this season, which shows he is highly rated by Zinedine Zidane.

    Real Madrid's Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi (L) and Real Madrid's Spanish midfieder Marcos Llorente head a ball during a training session in Madrid on December 30, 2017.

    Madrid want him to move out on loan and get more experience. Newcastle have an edge over other suitors, given Rafael Benitez’s strong connection with his former club.

    Benitez is desperate to bolster his squad in the January transfer window, and Hakimi would be a terrific loan signing for the club.

    http://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2018/01/07/report-newcastle-hope-to-sign-real-madrids-achraf-hakimi-on-loan/

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  • CHAN: Morocco’s CHAN history and 2018 tournament squad

    (Africanfootball.com) Ahead of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) which kicks off this coming weekend, we take a closer look at Morocco’s tournament history and squad for the 2018 edition.

    The North Africans will be appearing for the third time at the continental tournament, having made their debut in 2014 in South Africa.

    The Atlas Lions got as far the quarterfinals four years ago, topping Group B ahead of Zimbabwe, Uganda and Burkina Faso before losing a 4-3 thriller after extra time to Nigeria.

    The last tournament in Rwanda in 2016 saw Morocco exit in the first round, as they finished behind Ivory Coast and hosts Rwanda in Group A.

    This year they have been pooled in Group A alongside Guinea, Sudan and Mauritania.

    Morocco will open their campaign on January 13 in Casablanca when they face Mauritania. Four days later they take on Guinea, while their group stage campaign will be wrapped up on January 21 when they battle Sudan - both matches will also be in Casablanca.

    The current Morocco team is led by coach Jamal Sellami and features the following 23 players:

    Goalkeepers: Anas Zniti, Abdelali Mhamdi, Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti.

    Defenders: Mohamed Nahiri, Hamza Semmoumi, Jawad Yamiq, Marouane Hadhoudhi, Badr Banoune, Nayef Aguerd, Abdeljalil Jbira, Zakaria Hachimi.

    Midfielders: Yahia Jabrane, Mehdi Berrahma, Salaheddine Saidi, Walid El Karti, Abdelilah Hafidi, Badre Boulehroud.

    Forwards: Ayoub Nanah, Ayoub Kaabi, Achraf Bencharki, Ismail Haddad, Ahmed Hamoudane, Zakaria Hadraf.

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  • CHAN: Morocco defeat Cameroon 3-1 in friendly

    (Xinhua) -- Morocco defeated Cameroon 3-1 in a soccer friendly on Saturday ahead of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

    Morocco will host the African tournament, which features domestic players in the continent from Jan. 13 to Feb. 4.

    In Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, the Moroccan squad dominated the first half, scoring three goals through Mohamed Nahiri, Ayoub Kaabi, Ismail El Hadad at the 31st, 33rd and 48th minutes respectively.

    In the second half, Cameroon scored its sole goal at the 48th minute by Frantz Pangop.

    Both Morocco and Cameroon are preparing for CHAN, where Morocco will play in Group A along with Guinea, Sudan and Mauritania, Cameroon will play in Group D with Angola, Burkina Faso, and Congo.

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  • Holland: Abdelhak Nouri’s family say they were not told of existing heart ‘condition’

    Abdelhak Nouri’s family have responded to reports that the 20-year-old had a heart condition that was detected by the Dutch Football Association in 2014 and documented on the player’s medical file at Ajax by saying they are “very shocked” and “greatly regret” that neither the governing body nor the club informed the player’s parents at the time “to jointly agree on a follow-up process”.

    Abdelhak, who was one of the most talented young players in the Netherlands, collapsed on the pitch during a pre-season friendly in Austria against Werder Bremen on 8 July and remains in a low level of consciousness in a hospital in Amsterdam after suffering serious and permanent brain damage.

    The Nouri family say they had not suspected or been aware of any pre-existing condition at the time of the incident and only discovered the apparent heart defect – identified by the Dutch FA (the KNVB) during routine screening in April 2014 – when they obtained the medical file that Ajax provided “after repeated and explicit requests”.

    That document was passed on as part of an investigation that is being carried out on the family’s behalf by John Beer, a personal injury lawyer. Beer is looking at all aspects of the incident in Austria, including the level of care that Abdelhak received on the pitch immediately after he collapsed.

    The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad claimed on Friday that the KNVB informed Ajax in writing that there was an issue with Abdelhak’s heart. KNVB doctors reportedly evaluated the heart condition as harmless. The Dutch newspaper also claims that, according to the governing body, it is standard practice for the player and his family to then be notified by the club. However, the Nouri family say they were never told either verbally or in writing about the result of Abdelhak’s heart screening. The NRC report does not specify the heart condition.

    Furthermore, via a statement released on Saturday morning, the family say that had they known about the problem with Abdelhak’s heart – he was only 17 when it was picked up by the KNVB on an echocardiogram – they “would have immediately insisted on thorough follow-up examinations, a second opinion and regular follow-up tests, in order to assess the nature and risks of such a condition in combination with his intensive sporting activities”.

    NRC goes on to report in their article that “according to one person involved, it was communicated verbally” to Abdelhak that he had a heart defect, although the Nouri family strongly dispute that was the case and in their statement say they “give no credence to this”.

    It is unclear whether there is any connection between the pre-existing heart defect and Abdelhak collapsing last summer. Pointing to the fact that Abdelhak was able to play for Holland age-group teams at European championships in 2016 and 2014, the KNVB told NRC it “may be concluded” there was no danger to the player’s health.

    Ajax did not want to comment on NRC’s report and said, via a club spokesman: “No substantive information is to be shared, as it is a medical, and therefore confidential, file. In addition, our doctor has to adhere to professional confidentiality/doctor-patient privilege. We communicate directly with the Nouri family about matters concerning Abdelhak, and not through the media.”

    The full statement from the Nouri family, released in the wake of the NRC article, said: “Over the past six months, the family has heard from various doctors – mostly on an informal basis – that there may not have been an adequate response after Abdelhak collapsed on the football pitch. Before taking any further positions or drawing any conclusions, the family will await the investigation that is currently being carried out by personal injury lawyer Mr John Beer.

    “The family would like to express, however, that it is very shocked by the news that a heart condition was detected as early as 2014 during a medical examination of Abdelhak by the KNVB. The family only recently learned about this when they read the medical file that Ajax provided to them – after repeated and explicit requests.

    “The family is convinced that Abdelhak himself had no knowledge of this condition. If the family had been aware of the heart condition at an earlier stage, they would have immediately insisted on thorough follow-up examinations, a second opinion and regular follow-up tests, in order to assess the nature and risks of such a condition in combination with his intensive sporting activities.

    “The NRC Handelsblad article states, quoting a ‘person involved’, that Abdelhak was informed of the heart condition in 2014. In the light of the information currently available, the family attaches no credence to this and notes that the parents of Abdelhak, who was 17 years old at the time, were never informed, either in writing or orally. In the family’s opinion both the KNVB and Ajax could have been expected to explicitly inform the parents about this and to jointly agree on a follow-up process. The family greatly regrets that this never happened.

    “The family is also awaiting the results of the investigation and the outcome of the ongoing discussions with Ajax. No further statements will be made in the meantime. The media are requested politely but firmly not to contact the family.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jan/06/abdelhak-nouri-family-existing-heart-condition-ajax

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  • Holland: Dutch FA and Ajax knew in April 2014 that Abdelhak Nouri had heart problems

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Dutch FA and Ajax knew in April 2014 that Abdelhak Nouri had heart problems and both the KNVB and Ajax kept quiet about this and did not inform his family, Dutch newspaper NRC reported today!

    https://www.ad.nl/nederlands-voetbal/ajax-en-knvb-wisten-van-hartafwijking-nouri~a98adf19/

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  • Transfers: Stoke City and Watford Spy Tempting Opportunity To Snap Up Morocco Under-19 Star

    (InsideFutbol.com) Stoke City and Watford are both keen on Bordeaux youngster Yassine Benrahou.

    The 18-year-old attacking midfielder is currently plying his trade in the Ligue 1 club's reserve team, but his potential has caught the eye of the two Premier League clubs, according to French sports daily L'Equipe.

    Benrahou is only on a youth contract at Bordeaux, making him an even more attractive proposition; any club snapping him up would only have to pay a training compensation fee to Bordeaux.

    A Morocco Under-19 international, Benrahou's future could lie outside France if Stoke or Watford firm up their interest.

    Bordeaux have yet to step on the accelerator to hand the midfielder a professional deal and as such are at risk of losing him.

    The midfielder has also represented France at youth level.

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  • CHAN 2018: Morocco federation to dish out hefty bonuses in CHAN 2018

    (Africanfootball.com) The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) will reportedly dish out bonuses of 200,000 DH (over US$21,000) to each player if the Atlas Lions progress through the group stage of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

    Moroccan daily Al Ahdath Al Maghribia has reported these bonuses in its Thursday edition, adding that the figure will increase to 300,000 DH if Jamal Sellami’s side make it to the final four of the competition.

    Al Ahdath Al Maghribia cite an unnamed source close to the FRMF and also claim that the organisation’s president Fouzi Lekjaa has promised an even larger amount of money if the host nation’s team win the 2018 CHAN.

    Such bonuses are not unusual for the FRMF, who last year awarded each player of their locally-based national side 120,000 and 250,000 for defeating Egypt home and away in CHAN qualifiers.

    This was before Kenya was stripped of its hosting status and Morocco were appointed as the new tournament hosts.

    The FRMF also reportedly awarded Herve Renard’s full national team players 300,000 DH each for their quarterfinal showing at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, and 1,000,000 DH each for their qualification to the 2018 World Cup.

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