• Russia 2018: Romania,Bosnia friendlies for Atlas Lions

    Morocco’s head coach, Herve Renard, is using his connections to land two friendly games with Romania and Bosnia, Soak25east has gathered.

    Renard, being a well-traveled tactician is said to have opened negotiations with the two countries on the two friendly games in June during the FIFA window.

    The potential friendlies are tentatively scheduled for June 1 and June 5 respectively in Switzerland. Both are expected to help coach name the final list of 23 players for 2018 World Cup in June.

    The Morocco’s Royal Football Federation, FMF, is expected to make public the Romania and Bosnia friendlies after the other two other friendlies at the end of this month.

    The Atlas Lions are scheduled to battle it out with Uzbekistan on 27 March in Casablanca for the first friendly before flying to play against Serbia at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino in Turin on March 23.

    Having qualified for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia without conceding a goal in their qualification group, Morocco will battle Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B when the quadrennial event kick-off on June 14.


  • WC 2026: Ex-Fifa chief Blatter expresses support for Morocco World Cup bid

    (BBC Sport) Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter believes Morocco should stage the 2026 World Cup because of the logistical challenges thrown up by the joint bid from Canada/Mexico/United States.

    Blatter told reporters this week that joint bids are a "nightmare".

    "If Morocco is able to organise this World Cup with 48 teams, then it must be chosen," said 82-year-old Blatter.

    "After the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, we (concluded) that co-organisation was a nightmare," he said.

    "We decided that as long as we had a single nomination, it would be privileged."

    There has never been a co-hosted World Cup since, with Germany, South Africa and Brazil all staging by themselves in 2006, 2010 and 2014 respectively.

    Under the proposed plans of the triple bid, the United States would host 60 of the 80 matches, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each.

    The United States will stage all knock-out games from the quarter-finals onwards.

    Morocco, meanwhile, is set to emphasise its compact nature and small travelling distances when it hands over its formal bid book later this month.

    Both Morocco and the United States/Canada/Mexico must submit their 2026 World Cup bid books by 16 March.

    The 2026 finals will be the first to feature 48 teams, 16 more than the tally that will contest both this year's tournament in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.

    The North African nation is making a fifth bid to host the World Cup, having failed to land the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

    Since none of the bidding nations are eligible to vote, Morocco will need to win 104 votes when the decision on who will host the 2026 finals is made in Russia on 13 June.

    Earlier this week, the joint Canada-Mexico-US bid announced a reshuffle of its leadership, emphasising diversity as its leaders seek to attract voters.

    The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico federations will now serve as co-chairs of the bid, replacing former United States Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati, who steps down.

    United 2026 said the changes reflect the "unity" at the highest levels of the joint bid, while some have seen the change in leadership as a strategic move to shift the perception of the bid as being a largely American-driven enterprise.

    Blatter, who led Fifa for 17 years before being barred for ethics violations (that he is contesting) in 2015, was a central figure in organising the rotation system that eventually took the World Cup to Africa for the first time in 2010.

    His extensive reign was ended when he was barred for ethics violations amid the biggest corruption scandal that world football's governing body had ever seen.

    The Swiss still hopes that Fifa's ethics committee will reconsider his case and lift his six-year ban from the sport.

  • NT: Morocco get ready for the World Cup with friendlies against Serbia and Uzbekistan

    (BBC Sport) Morocco have confirmed they will prepare for the 2018 World Cup tournament with friendlies against Serbia and Uzbekistan later this month.

    The Atlas Lions will face Serbia on 23 March in Turin, Italy and host Uzbekistan in Casablanca four days later, according to the country's football federation (FRMF).

    Top FRMF officials are still working on more warm-up fixtures for the 1976 African champions, before their opening Group B clash on 15 June against Iran in St Petersburg.

    Morocco and Iran have played each other twice in the past with the Atlas Lions winning both matches including one on penalties.

    They face reigning European champions Portugal on 20 June in Moscow before a final group clash against 2010 World Cup winners Spain in Kaliningrad on 25 June.

    The North Africans have previously topped a group involving Portugal, when they finished above England and Poland in the 1986 World Cup.

    Morocco, who under Frenchman Herve Renard completed their qualifying campaign with maximum points and no goals conceded, last appeared in a World Cup in 1998 in France.

  • CAF: Raja Casablanca and Club Africain toil in Confederation Cup ties

    (BBC Sport) African giants Raja Casablanca of Morocco and Club Africain of Tunisia - clubs expected to go far in the 2018 African Confederation Cup - are in trouble after the first leg of their last-32 fixtures on Tuesday.

    Three-time African champions Raja missed a penalty and conceded a late goal to only draw 1-1 at home against Nouadhibou of Mauritania.

    Club Africain fell 3-1 at Renaissance Berkane of Morocco and the result was nearly worse for the visitors who scored two minutes into stoppage time.

    Morocco trounced Mauritania 4-0 in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) opener two months ago and a similar score-line was expected in favour of Raja Casablanca.

    But the hosts could not break down the Nouadhibou defence and when they were awarded a penalty just before half-time, Abderrahim Achchakir had his kick saved.

    The Moroccan club finally broke the deadlock on 70 minutes when young substitute Mohamed Khaldane finished off a Mahmoud Benhalib cross.

    A mistake by Ayoub Joulale gifted Samba el Voullany an equaliser eight minutes later and the outsiders will be dreaming of claiming another prized scalp when the clubs meet again.

    Former African champions Club Africain, who reached the Confederation Cup semi-finals last year, fell three goals behind away to Renaissance Berkane of Morocco with 14 minutes remaining.

    Mohamed Aziz and Togolese Fo Doh Laba scored in the opening half and Lahcen Khamiss added a third Berkane goal.

    Veteran Saber Khalifa reduced the arrears two minutes into additional time when he converted a penalty and set up an intriguing return match in Tunis next weekend.

  • NT: Walid Azaro called up to Morocco national team

    Morocco French coach Herve Renard decided to include Al Ahly striker Walid Azaro in the national team’s preliminary squad for Morocco’s training camp in March.

    Walid Azaro, who played four matches before with his national team, shined with the Red Devils netting 17 goals in the Egyptian Premier League which helped him equalize John Utaka and Flavio’s record of most goals scored by a foreign player in the league in one season. He also became the first player in Egyptian Premier League history to score 17 goals in his debut season.

    Thanks to his amazing performances, the young striker secured his spot in El-Badry’s starting line up and will be joining his national team’s upcoming training camp. In 35 matches he played with Al Ahly, Azaro scored 24 goals and made 6 assists announcing himself as the team’s top scorer.

    “Azaro will join the Moroccan national team in their next training camp,” Al Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz told Sada El Balad TV channel. “The Egyptian national team also asked for the passports of eight players from Al Ahly.”

    Abdel-Hafiz confirmed that these players are Mohamed El-Shennawy, Abdallah El-Said, Ayman Ashraf, Ahmed Fathi, Saad Samir and Hossam Ashour, while Salah Mohsen will be joining the Olympic national team.

    Morocco is preparing for two friendlies against Serbia and Uzbekistan as part of their World Cup preparations. The Lions of the Atlas were drawn in Group B alongside former World Cup champions Spain, Euro 2016 winners Portugal and Iran.


  • WC 2026: Morocco outlines 2026 World Cup bid plans

    BBC Sport

    Morocco will emphasise its compact nature and "sweet spot location" when it submits its 2026 World Cup bid book to Fifa later this month.

    The North African nation is the only rival to a joint bid from Canada/Mexico/United States for the expanded 48-team finals.

    Football's world governing body must receive the bid books by 16 March.

    Morocco is making a fifth bid to host the World Cup, having failed to land the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

    In contrast to the joint bid from the Americas, Morocco is keen to emphasise that the maximum internal flying time for any team will be around 75 minutes.

    Moroccan authorities believe that this will benefit both players and fans.

    They also believe the fact that Morocco's Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone will be attractive to the critical European audience and to sponsors.

    European football fans will have to stay up late to watch some games should the tournament be played in the Americas.

    "Beyond profitability, Morocco's sweet spot location will allow all European fans to watch World Cup games in decent and premium hours," states an information document provided by the Moroccan bid team.

    Morocco hopes this proximity to Europe can counter the greater revenues that the triple bid is expected to generate, with the United States boasting vast stadiums.

    Morocco has selected 12 host cities, including the capital Rabat, tourism centres Marrakech and Fes, as well as Casablanca and Tanger.

    The other venues are Agadir, El Jadida, Meknes, Nador, Oujda, Ouarzazate and Tetouan.

    The country will also highlight its ecological element, claiming that the ''environmental impact of a 48-team World Cup is expected to be lower than (the two) previous 32-team World Cups."

    Since none of the bidding nations are eligible to vote, Morocco will need to win 104 votes when the decision on who will host the 2026 finals is made in Russia on 13 June.

    The country is riding a footballing wave at the moment, having qualified for its first World Cup in 20 years last November - the same month that local side Wydad Casablanca were named African champions.

    Earlier this year, Morocco both hosted and won the African Nations Championship, a tournament - popularly known as CHAN - for African footballers who play in their own domestic leagues.

    Africa has hosted the World Cup once before, in 2010, while Mexico and the United States are hoping to stage the finals for a third and second time respectively.

  • WC 2018: Youssef El Arabi Hopes to Play with Moroccan National Team in 2018

    (Morocco World News) Rabat – Moroccan international striker Youssef El-Arabi has expressed his desire to win a spot on Morocco’s squad for the 2018 World Cup.

    The footballer, who is currently playing for Qatari club Al-Duhail, said in an interview with the German Press Agency (DPA) that he is looking for an opportunity to play for Morocco during the 2018 World Cup.

    “Any footballer dreams of defending the colors of his country at the World Cup,” said the footballer.

    The 31-year old El Arabi added that his fate is in the hands of Morocco’s national football team coach, Herve Renard.

    El Arabi has been delivering notable performances with his Qatari team, scoring 21 goals during regular season play in Qatar’s League.

    “I hope I will be in Russia. I do not want to send a message to the coach to let me in. I am focusing on my level in the Qatar championship, and I am doing my best to evolve in order to convince the coach.”

    According to Al Arabi, “whatever happened, I will respect Renard’s decision.”

    Born in France, El Arabi has chosen to represent Morocco on the international level before. The footballer made his debut with the Atlas Lions in 2010 during three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. The footballer also played for Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal club and for La Liga club Granada in 2012.

    Many Moroccan footballers have expressed their desire to represent Morocco in the 2018 World Cup, including Hicham Mastour Adel Taarabt, who has been calling on Renard to select him for play in the global tournament.

    Taarabt told beIN Sports, “I did well with Genoa to be able to rejoin the Moroccan team,” adding that “the Moroccan squad played good matches […] I hope to be invited by Herve.”

  • CAF: Wydad Casablanca are crowned Caf Super Cup champions

    (BBC Sport) Wydad Casablanca are now both Caf Champions League and Super Cup winners

    Wydad Casablanca of Morocco have won the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Super Cup after beating TP Mazembe of DR Congo 1-nil.

    Amin Tighazoui scored for the champions Wydad Casablanca.

    The match took place at Stade Mohamed V in Morocco's largest city, Casablanca.

    The Super Cup is a competition between the winners of the African Champions League and the second-tier Confederation Cup.

    It has been a good run for Moroccan football in the last months. Wydad Casablanca won the Caf Champions League in November, the same month that the national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia in the summer.

    Earlier this month Morocco hosted and won the African Nations Championship (CHAN) for home-based players by thrashing Nigeria 4-0 in the final.

    With the Super Cup trophy Wydad Casablanca also walk away with $100,000 and get to boast and can claim the title of top football club on the continent.

    TP Mazembe of DR Congo pocket $75,000.

    TP Mazembe are three-time Super Cup winners, while this was Wydad Casablanca's first try.

  • CAF Super Cup: Wydad Casablanca host TP Mazembe in CAF Super Cup clash Saturday

    Wydad Casablanca of Morocco will Saturday face DR Congo’s TP Mazembe in the 2018 CAF Super Cup tie at Mohammed V Stadium, Casablanca, Morocco.

    Hosts Wydad will be gunning for a maiden glory in the competition contested between winners of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup, while Mazembe will be fighting for a fourth crown.

    Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be used for the first time on African soil during the game after failed takeoff during the Morocco CHAN 2018.

    Confederations Cup holders Mazembe will be keen to reclaim the Super Cup title they lost to South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns in 2017 after bagging the 2016 edition.

    Wydad, who are the reigning African Champions, on the other hand will be hoping for victory to erase sad memories of losing it twice before.

    The record 19-times Morocco’s Botola Champions lost the 1993 edition 5-3 on penalty to African Sports in Abidjan before going down 3-1 to Zamalek SC in the 2003 contest in Cairo.

    Two Morocco sides have won the cup namely Maghreb Fez and Raja Casablanca and Wydad will be hoping to be the third.

    Wydad will go into the much hyped tie against a backdrop of a shaky home run. Despite replacing their Champions League winning coach Hussein Amotta with Faouzi Benzarti following a poor domestic spell, things are not looking any better now.

    In six outings, the Red Devils have only managed two wins and suffered three consecutive losses and a barren draw.

    They are currently ninth on the Botola standings on 22 points – 11 points off leaders Ittihad Tanger and are unlikely to defend their crown.

    DR Congo heavyweights Mazembe on the other hand are bullish in the Linafoot’s Central Zone’s league and are currently top on 40 points after 17 fixtures.

    The coach Pamphile Mihayo’s charges have won four of their last six matches – losing once and drawing the other.

    Morocco FA has announced that the Super Cup is sold out. An electric atmosphere is thus expected at the 67,000 capacity Mohammed V Stadium – regarded as the theatre of Moroccan football.

    Mezembe’s Deogratias Kanda, who played for Wydad’s bitter rivals Raja between 2013 and 2014 believes the Ravens are a big side and will not be intimidated by the home fans.

    “The TPM is a big continental club used to this kind of pressure, my teammates are not afraid and will make sure our supporters and all lovers of African football are very happy with the show,” the winger said.

    Super Cup winner will pocket a healthy $100,000 with the runners up taking home $75,000.


  • WC 2018: Iran to prepare for Morocco game

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Iran to prepare for Morocco game by confirming friendlies with Libya, Algeria & Tunisia before the World cup. Team Melli will also play friendlies with Uzbekistan & Turkey.


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