• NT: Yassine Bounou doubtful for Morocco friendlies

    Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou is a major doubt for their international friendlies over the next week after suffering an adductor injury.

    The 26-year-old gloves-man picked up the injury ahead of Girona’s 6-3 loss to Real Madrid on Sunday in La Liga.

    He is set to undergo scans to determine whether he will be fit to face either Serbia in Turin on Friday, or Uzbekistan in Casablanca next week Tuesday.

    “To tell the truth, I felt pain in the adductor during the warm-up and during the match I struggled to clear the ball with the left foot, I think I have an injury,” Bounou told beIN sports on Sunday.

    “[I will need] tests to know but I do not think that I will be fit [for Morocco’s matches], I will see with the managers of the national selection.”

    If Bounou is unable to play, Morocco will look to either Munir Mohamedi or Ahmed Rega Tagnaouti to guard their goals in the friendlies.


  • NT: Azaro eyes World Cup success with Morocco

    BBC Sport

    Morocco striker Walid Azaro says the Atlas Lions "are ready for the World Cup in Russia" as he prepares to join up with his national team-mates for their friendlies later this month.

    The striker goes into the international window full of confidence after helping his club Al Ahly win a landmark 40th Egyptian League title last week.

    Now, the 22-year-old has his sights set on World Cup glory with Morocco.

    "I'm sure we will make the nation proud," Azaro told BBC Sport.

    I am always happy when I receive a call from the head coach, a call from the homeland is special for me

    Morocco will play two friendly matches against Serbia on 23rd March in Italy, followed by Uzbekistan on 27 March in Casablanca as they prepare for their first World Cup finals since France '98.

    Azaro says he is delighted to be part of Herve Renard's squad for the warm-up matches.

    "I am always happy when I receive a call from the head coach, a call from the homeland is special for me," Egypt-based Azaro said.

    The striker had not been called up by Morocco since June 2017 when he was involved in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon.

    Since then, Azaro has looked impressive with Al Ahly in his first season with the club. He now has his sights set on helping Ahly win the African Champions League after they lost in last season's final.

    However, he is adamant his club focus will not be a distraction from his commitments with Morocco.

    "I will not need time to adapt with the national team. When I was a player with Difaâ El Jadida before joining Al Ahly I was part of the national team.

    "I know the atmosphere there and that will help me.

    "I'm back with the national team after my hard work with Al Ahly and I want to thank my head coach there, Hossam El Badry, who has given me his full support," Azaro said.

    Morocco have been drawn in one of the toughest groups, where they fill face Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B.

    "Some people say this is the 'group of death,' but I like it. Morocco can play well against big teams, and I wanted a group like that," Azaro said.

    Morocco will begin their campaign in Russia against Iran on 15 June in St Petersburg.

    "I saw reports suggesting Iran are not a strong side, and that is not true. They are a very good side and this match will not be easy."

  • CAF CL: Wydad and Difaa El Jadida through to group phase

    (BBC Sport) Port of Togo and Morocco's Difaa el Jadida caused the biggest shocks on Sunday in the second leg of the African Champions League last-32 ties.

    Port became the first Togolese side to make the group phase of Africa's elite club competition, knocking out Sudan's Al Hilal on away-goals.

    Difaa el Jadida overcame former African champions AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo with a 2-2 draw in Kinshasa to win 3-2 on aggregate.

    Port knew they had a good chance to create history in the second leg of their tie against Al Hilal, having won their home leg 2-0 in Togo.

    Al Hilal took the aggregate score to 2-1 after just five minutes through Geovane, but Port hit back immediately as Ayi struck two minutes later to make it 3-1 overall.

    The hosts continued to try and claw their way back and were rewarded with further goals from Elnour and Bashier in the second half to make it 3-3 overall.

    However, it was not enough for the Sudanese outfit as Port secured their passage into the group phase on the away-goals ruling.

    Morocco's Difaa el Jadida - who earlier in the competition had achieved a record win over Benfica of Guinea-Bissau - took a slender 1-0 lead to Kinshasa for the return leg against Vita Club.

    Mundele hit a brace for Vita Club but it was not enough, as a goal from Ahaddad and then a stoppage time equaliser from Nanah gave Jadida a 2-2 draw on the night, to win 3-2 on aggregate.

    The clubs who qualified for the Champions League group phase will now be divided into four pools after a seeded draw, with the winners and runners-up from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.

    African Champions League last-32 second-leg fixtures:


    KCCA (Uganda) 1-0 Saint George (Ethiopia) (KCCA win 1-0 on aggregate)

    Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland) 1-0 Zanaco (Zambia) (Swallows win 3-1 on aggregate)

    Williamsville (Ivory Coast) 2-0 Wydad Casablanca (Morocco, holders) (Wydad win 7-4 on aggregate)

    Mounana (Gabon) 1-3 Al Ahly (Egypt) (Ahly win 7-1 on aggregate)

    Mouloudia Alger (Algeria) 6-0 MFM (Nigeria) (Mouloudia win 7-2 on aggregate)

    Generation Foot (Senegal) 0-2 Horoya (Guinea) (Horoya win 4-1 on aggregate)

    Township Rollers (Botswana) 0-0 Young Africans (Tanzania) (Rollers win 2-1 on aggregate)

    Songo (Mozambique) 3-0 TP Mazembe (DR Congo) (Mazembe win 4-3 on aggregate)

    Wits (South Africa) 1-0 Primeiro Agosto (Angola) (Tie ends 1-1 on aggregate. Primeiro win 3-2 on penalties)


    Entente Setif (Algeria) 4-0 Aduana Stars (Ghana)(Setif win 4-1 on aggregate)

    Esperance (Tunisia) 1-0 Gor Mahia (Kenya) (Esperance win 1-0 on aggregate)

    Plateau Utd (Nigeria) 1-0 Etoile Sahel (Tunisia)(Etoile win 4-3 on aggregate)

    Al Hilal (Sudan) 3-1 Port (Togo) (Tie ends 3-3 on aggregate. Port win on away goals)

    ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast) 1-2 Zesco Utd (Zambia) (Tie ends 2-2 on aggregate. Zesco win on away goals)

    V Club (DR Congo) 2-2 Difaa el Jadida (Morocco) (Jadida win 3-2 on aggregate)

    Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 2-0 Rayon Sports (Rwanda) (Sundowns win 2-0 on aggregate)

  • CAF: Iajour brace helps Raja Casablanca advance in Confederation Cup

    (BBC Sport) Mouhssine Iajour hit a brace for Raja Casablanca in their win at Nouadhibou of Mauritania

    Former African champions Raja Casablanca of Morocco booked their place in the Confederation Cup play-offs with a 4-2 victory at Nouadhibou of Mauritania on Saturday in the second-leg of their last-32 tie.

    Mouhssine Iajour scored twice for Raja who won the tie 5-3 on aggregate and will face an African Champions League first-round loser over two legs next month.

    Iajour struck after six minutes and again just before the break as Raja went 3-1 up overall by half-time.

    That two-goal advantage on the day was halved midway through the second half before Mahmoud Benhalib got a fourth Raja goal with 20 minutes remaining.

    Raja are desperate for success in Africa after neighbours and arch rivals Wydad Casablanca won the 2017 African Champions League and then the African Super Cup last month.

    Elsewhere on Saturday, Renaissance Berkane completed a great day for Morocco in the second-tier African club competition by eliminating former African champions Club Africain of Tunisia.

    A goal from 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) player of the tournament Ayoub el Kaabi earned Berkane a 1-0 win in Tunis and a 4-1 aggregate triumph.

    El Kaabi notched a record nine goals as hosts Morocco won the CHAN last month, a tournament restricted to footballers playing their club football in their country of birth.

    Al Hilal Obied of Sudan, who reached the Confederation Cup quarter-finals last year at the first attempt, trounced Burundian visitors Olympic Star 6-0 following a goalless first leg.

    Mohnud al-Tahier scored within two minutes for Obied and Abakar Suliman added a second goal soon after.

    The Sudanese led 4-0 by half-time and Olympic were six goals behind with a quarter of the match to be played.

    Rwandan military club APR defeated 2012 Confederation Cup runners-up Djoliba of Mali 2-1 in Kigali, but exited on away goals after losing 1-0 in Bamako last week.

    Al Masry of Egypt, coached by Egypt football legend Hossam Hassan, also needed away goals to advance as they were held 0-0 at home by Simba of Tanzania after the first leg finished 2-2.

    Diego Apanene converted a penalty and missed another for Nkana of Zambia, who beat Algerian visitors CR Belouizdad 1-0 at home but went out 3-1 on aggregate.

    African Confederation Cup last-32 second leg fixtures:


    SuperSport United (South Africa) 2-1 Petro Atletico (Angola) (SuperSport win 2-1 on aggregate)

    Al Ahly Shendy (Sudan) 2-1 La Mancha (Congo Brazzaville) (La Mancha win 4-2 on aggregate)


    APR (Rwanda) 2-1 Djoliba (Mali) (Tie ends 2-2 on aggregate. Djoliba win on away goals)

    Al Hilal Obied (Sudan) 6-0 Olympic Star (Burundi) (Obied win 6-0 on aggregate)

    Nkana (Zambia) 1-0 Belouizdad (Algeria) (Belouizdad win 3-1 on aggregate)

    Al Masry (Egypt) 0-0 Simba (Tanzania) (Tie ends 2-2 on aggregate. Masry win on away goals)

    Club Africain (Tunisia) 0-1 Renaissance Berkane (Morocco) (Berkane win 4-1 on aggregate)

    Nouadhibou (Mauritania) 2-4 Raja Casablanca (Morocco) (Raja win 5-3 on aggregate)


    Cape Town City (South Africa) v Costa do Sol (Mozambique) 1-0

    Enyimba (Nigeria) v Energie (Benin) 2-0

    Fosa Juniors (Madagascar) v Port Louis (Mauritius) (2-0)

    USM Alger (Algeria) v Maniema Union (DR Congo) (2-2)

    Deportivo Niefang (Eq Guinea) v DC Motema Pembe (DR Congo) (1-1)

    Akwa Utd (Nigeria) v Al Ittihad (Libya) (0-1)

    Ben Guerdane (Tunisia) v CARA (Congo Brazzaville) (0-3)

    Zamalek (Egypt) v Welayta Dicha (Ethiopia) (1-2)

  • WC 2026: Morocco plans to spend $15.8 billion if it gets 2026 World Cup

    CASABLANCA (Reuters) - Morocco has proposed using 14 stadiums and budgeting to spend 15.8 billion dollars on infrastructure if it wins the right to host the World Cup soccer finals in 2026, the country’s bid committee announced at a news conference on Saturday. But Morocoo will not build any new stadiums for the tournament, preferring to renovate and modify existing venues and add temporary capacity to others, said candidature chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy, who is also a government minister. The North African country is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States when world soccer governing body FIFA’s member countries decide in Moscow on June 13 who will host the tournament eight years from now.

    Saturday’s news conference revealed details of Morocco’s bid book, which was presented to FIFA on Friday, with the central theme being making their football infrastructure sustainable after the tournament and keeping down construction costs. At least five stadiums, termed legacy modular stadiums and with largely temporary capacity, will be downscaled after the finals to meet the specific needs of their local communities. Casablanca and Marrakech will both have two stadiums with other venues being the capital Rabat, Agadir, El Jadida, Fez, Meknes, Nador, Ouarzazate Oujda, Tangier and Tetouan. “The World Cup is a national priority for our government and that is why it has guaranteed the required investment in our exciting and innovative stadium plans,” added Elalamy. “Our beautiful and welcoming nation offers players and fans something very special with just one timezone, one currency and all host cities are within a 550km radius from Casablanca, meaning limited travel and simple logistics.

    “All host cities are also all located within an hour’s drive of an airport, so players and fans need only focus on the one thing that matters most – football.” Morocco bid unsuccessfully to stage the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. The country was second to the U.S. in ‘94, behind France in ‘98 and just lost out to South Africa for the 2010 finals, the only time the event has been held in Africa.

  • WC 2026: Morocco submit bid to host 2026 World Cup

    (Xinhua) -- The Moroccan 2026 World Cup Bid Committee announced on Friday that it has formerly submitted its bid book at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

    "The committee has kept its commitment by submitting a quality bid book while respecting FIFA's deadlines," said a statement released by the committee on Friday.

    "The 2026 World Cup in Morocco will benefit players, fans, FIFA, Morocco, Africa and the whole World," the statement said.

    FIFA experts are expected for an official inspection visit on April 17-19.

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

    Morocco is competing a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

    FIFA will make the decision at FIFA Congress on June 13 in Moscow, Russia, on the eve of the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

  • Moroccans abroad: Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou named Girona player of the month

    Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has been named Girona’s player of the month for February 2018.

    The 26-year-old Atlas Lions ‘keeper is enjoying the best season of his career and has thus far made 20 La Liga starts for the Catalan club.

    His performances through the month of February help Girona rack up victories over Athletic Bilbao, Leganes and Celta Vigo, though his copybook was blotted somewhat by a 6-1 defeat at the hands of league leaders Barcelona.

    Girona have won four of their last five matches to rise up to an impressive seventh place on the La Liga log and are very much in the running for a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League.

    Bounou received a Fiat Abarth as part of his prize for winning the player of the month.


  • NEW FIFA/Coca-Cola WORLD RANKING: No change for Morocco

    (TheAtlasLions.com) No change for Morocco in the new FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking published today.

    Morocco remain on the 42nd worldwide.

  • NT: El Kaabi named in Morocco squad for World Cup friendlies

    BBC Sport

    Ayoub El Kaabi, the top scorer at the recent African Nations Championship (CHAN), has been included in Morocco's 28-man squad for this month's World Cup warm-up matches against Serbia and Uzbekistan.

    El Kaabi, a Moroccan second-tier footballer last season, scored a record nine goals as hosts Morocco won the CHAN for home-based players last month.

    The 24-year-old, uncapped at full international level, plays for Renaissance Berkane.

    He is one of three home-based players named in coach Herve Renard's squad, which will be boosted by 25 overseas players.

    Morocco will play Serbia in Turin, Italy on 23 March and then Uzbekistan at home in Casablanca four days later.

    Renard, though, has overlooked two stars from the successful CHAN squad, Italy-based defender Jawad El Yamiq and Wydad Casablanca winger Ismail Haddad.

    Other notable omissions include Achraf Bencharki, Oussama Tannane and Youssef El-Arabi, while former Dutch youth internationals and Utrecht duo of Yassin Ayoub and Zakaria Labyad have been recalled.

    Apart from the new faces, Renard has largely kept faith with the Atlas Lions squad that secured the 2018 World Cup ticket.

    Star sextet of captain Mehdi Benatia, Younes Belhanda, Nabil Dirar, Hakim Ziyech, Sofiane Boufal and Khalid Boutaib is included.

    The country's football authority, FRMF, is still working on more warm-up fixtures for the 1976 African champions, before their opening Group B clash at the tournament in Russia 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 final qualifying campaign with maximum points and no goals conceded, last appeared in a World Cup in 1998 in France.

    Morocco's 28-man squad:

    Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Girona, Spain), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger)

    Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus, Italy), Ghanem Saiss (Wolves, England), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid, Spain), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Badr Banoun (Raja Casablanca), Manuel da Costa (Başakşehir, Turkey), Oualid El Hajjam (Amiens, France), Hamza Mendyl (Lille, France)

    Midfielders: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, Netherlands), Fayçal Fajr (Getafe, Spain), Soufiane Boufal (Southampton, England), Nordin Amrabat (Leganés, Spain), Karim El Ahmadi and Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray, Turkey), Mbark Boussoufa (Al Jazeera, UAE), Amine Harit (Schalke, Germany), Zakaria Labyad and Yassin Ayoub (Utrecht, Netherlands), Youssef Aït-Bennasser (Caen, France)

    Forwards: Khalid Boutaïb (Malatyaspor, Turkey), Yacine Bammou (Nantes, France), Walid Azaro (Al Ahly, Egypt), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Aziz Bouhaddouz (Saint Pauli, Germany)

  • Press review: Serbia unveil squad for Morocco, Nigeria friendlies

    (Africanfootball.com) Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic has unveiled a 24-man squad for their upcoming friendlies against Morocco and Nigeria.

    The Serbians will face Morocco in Turin on March 23 and Nigeria in London four days later.

    All three teams will be using the matches as preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    Krstajic’s selection includes star players such as Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic, Zenit’s Branislav Ivanovic and Luka Milivojevic of Crystal Palace.

    Serbia squad:

    Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel-Aviv), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar)

    Defenders: Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Dusan Basta (Lazio), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit), Nikola Maksimovic (Spartak Moscow), Vujadin Savic (Crvena Zvezda), Matija Nastasic (Schalke), Dusko Tosic (Besiktas), Milos Veljkovic Werder) Alexander Kolarov (Roma), Ivan Obradovic (Anderlecht)

    Midfielders: Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Sergei Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Mijat Gacinovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marko Grujic (Cardiff)

    Attackers: Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (HSV), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) and Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK)


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