• NT: Amrabat rejects Netherlands advances and chooses Morocco

    The Moroccan football federation president has confirmed that Sofyan Amrabat has chosen to represent the African nation.

    The KNVB had hoped to persuade the Feyenoord midfielder to choose Netherlands, but it appears that Amrabat will follow in his brother Nordin’s footsteps and represent Morocco.

    Moroccan FA president Faouzi Lakjaa is quoted by NOS telling Chouftv, “Amrabat sat with his parents in the stand at the World Championships qualifying match between Morocco and Gabon on Saturday night. He will play for Morocco’s first team,”

    The 21-year-old was born in the Netherlands and has represented both nations at youth level. However, he has two caps for the Moroccan first team. Due to both being in friendlies he wasn’t tied to the African nation.

    http://www.football-oranje.com/amrabat-rejects-netherlands-advances-chooses-morocco/

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  • Press review: Moroccan Football Fans Massively Celebrate Atlas Lions Victory over Gabon

    By Morocco World News

    Rabat – The scenes of Moroccan football fans, from different ages and walks of life, taking to the streets to celebrate the national football team’s victories have once again become more familiar.

    On Saturday the Atlas Lions made one step forward on their quest for booking a ticket for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after 20 years of absence.

    As they clashed with Gabon in a fully-packed Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, the Moroccan squad did not disappoint. Three goals netted by the team’s center forward Khalid Boutaib which crowned an amazing team work and a great over-all performance by all the team’s players made the night of millions of Moroccans.

    Footage of fans honking their cars, waving the Moroccan flag or chanting and screaming out of joy are all over the internet.

    The celebrations brought to mind glorious days when Moroccan football was in a good shape before suffering a setback in recent years.

    In Casablanca, Rabat, Tetouan and other cities fans unleashed their joy as gathered en mass to share their passion for football and love for the Moroccan team.

    In a county where football is a national addiction, the performances of the Atlas Lions can be a source of joy or disappointment.

    Yesterday, as was the case in September when the Moroccan squad crushed Mali 6-0, fans were amazed to see their team win with style, beating a very competitive rival.

    The hopes are high that the Atlas Lions’s win streak will continue when they clash with Ivory Coast in November or at least score a draw to secure qualification for the world cup for the first time since 1998.

    Hervé Ranard, the national team’s manager, is aware that a difficult task awaits his players. In an interview with beIN sport, he said that they will go to Abidjan to seek victory and offer a whole nation the qualification it is “waiting for”.

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  • Press review: Renard Says Difficult Game Awaits Morocco against Ivory Coast

    Rabat – Morocco football team manager Hervé Renard has said that his team is going to face a difficult challenge when the Atlas Lions meet Ivory Coast in Abidjan next month.

    The two teams are set to clash on November 6 to decide which of the two will qualify to next summer World Cup 2018 in Russia.

    The game is going to mark the sixth and final round of Group C’s African qualifiers.

    “We ‘re going to play our final game against Ivory Coast, and this game is going to be difficult,” Renard told beIN sport on Saturday following a crucial 3-0 victory over Gabon.

    “We deafted Ivory Coast during the African cup of Nations. We’ll have to do the same again.”

    With the win over Gabon, Morocco is now leader of the group with 9 points chased by Ivory Coast with 8. Morocco will need a draw to qulaify for the World Cup while the host team will seek victory.

    The Moroccan squad, especially the team’s defense, will have a difficult time keeping their goal clean.

    Despite the difficult task ahead, Renard said the Moroccan team is “confident” it can do well against Ivory Coast. What is imortant, Ranard added, is “to well prepare” for the game.

    “I think that we’ve made a lot of progress. But we have to be very efficient during those 90 minutes to seek this qualification that a whole nation is waiting for,” he said.

    The last time the two teams met was during the African Cup of Nations in Gabon in January. Morocco got the better of their rivals thanks to a 1-0 victory.

    While the Moroccan squad grew to become a strong team among the rest of major African football nations, the Atlas Lions will have to avoid a similar scenario to 2001 and 2005 when a loss to Senegal and a draw with Tunisia in the last round of African qualifiers crushed their hopes of booking their ticket to the World Cup.

    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2017/10/230474/renard-says-difficult-game-awaits-morocco-ivory-coast/

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  • NT: Côte d'Ivoire and Morocco poised for make-or-break showdown

    (FIFA.com)

    Match of the weekend

    Morocco 3-0 Gabon

    The Moroccans capitalised on Côte d'Ivoire's Friday-night stumble in Mali in style, easing past Gabon 3-0 to move into top spot in Group C. Khalid Boutaib was the star of the show, hitting a perfect hat-trick – his first goal was a glancing header, his second a right-footed volley and his third an emphatic left-footed finish – to fire his country to victory.

    The Atlas Lions are now in pole position and know that a draw in their final game – a potentially explosive showdown away to the Elephants on 6 November – would be enough to take them through.

    The quote

    "We knew that today's match was only a semi-final. Now we can go to Abidjan with more confidence, without having to take too many risks and with our fate in our own hands, albeit mindful that it'll be a tough game. We beat Côte d'Ivoire at this year's Africa Cup of Nations, so we know we can do it again." – Morocco coach Herve Renard

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  • Press review: Khalid Boutaib hat-trick shoots down Gabon dreams

    (Africanfotbal.com) A hat-trick from Khalid Boutaib ended Gabon’s dreams of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia after losing 3-0 to Morocco in a Group C qualifier at the Stade Mohammed V on Saturday night.

    The loss means Gabon, along with Mali who drew 0-0 with Cote d’Ivoire on Friday night, are unable to qualify for the showpiece next year.

    The win, however, for Morocco sees them up to nine points in Group C, one above second placed Cote d’Ivoire.

    Gabon are third in the group with five points and Mali are last with three points.

    In Casablanca on Saturday night, a superb individual performance from Khalid Boutaib saw him net a hat-trick as Morocco cruised to only their second win in the group.

    The match itself started a little slowly with neither side creating any significant goal scoring chances in the opening half hour.

    The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when a clinical finish from Khalid Boutaib gave the home side the lead, 1-0.

    Ten minutes into the second half Morocco doubled their lead when Khalid Boutaib found his second goal with a neat finish, 2-0.

    The icing on the cake was Khalid Boutaib’s third goal in the 72nd minute which handed Morocco a comfortable 3-0 win.

    Morocco will now face Cote d’Ivoire in their final 2018 World Cup qualifier in November with the winner of that match heading to the showpiece in Russia.

    Gabon will take on Mali in a dead rubber, but pride will be on the line for both nations.

    Morocco (1) 3 (Khalid Boutaib 38’, 55’ + 72’)

    Gabon (0) 0

    Teams

    Morocco: Munir, Amrabat (Harit 90’), Belhanda, Benatia (Banoun 81’), Boussoufa, Boutaib (Bouhaddouz 81’), Dirar, El Ahmadi, Hakimi, Saiss, Ziyech.

    Gabon: Bitseki, Aubameyang, Bouanga (Nzembi 85’), Ecuele, Lemina, Meye Me Ndong, Ndong, Nzambe, Appindangoye, Tandjigora, Wachter.

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  • Press review: Boutaib hits a hat-trick as Morocco move to the top of Group C

    (BBC) Khalid Boutaib hit a hat-trick as Morocco beat Gabon 3-0 in Casablanca to leapfrog Ivory Coast at the top of Group C.

    Boutaib headed hosts Morocco ahead in the 38th minute with the Turkey-based forward adding a second in the 56th minute and he completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute.

    Morocco now have a slender one-point lead over Ivory Coast and both countries will fight for the sole group ticket on the final day in Abidjan on 6 November.

    Gabon, who were buoyed by the return to the squad of their superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are now eliminated from the race to Russia.

    African WC Qualifying Group C Played Points

    Morocco 5 9

    Ivory Coast 5 8

    Gabon 5 5

    Mali 5 3

    In 1986, the Atlas Lions became the first African country to win a World Cup group as well as reach the second round of the tournament.

    The 1976 African Champions finished in the group stage in 1970, 1994 and 1998.

    On Friday night, Ivory Coast drew 0-0 way to Mali in Bamako which briefly put them top of the standings.

    Mali's Moussa Doumbia missed a first half sitter and struck the crossbar in the second half as the hosts came close to their first win of the campaign.

    The Ivorians, who lost several key players to injury on the eve of the game, moved to eight points from five matches.

    Mali are now definitely out of contention for a place at next year's finals.

    Only the group winners will qualify for Russia 2018.

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  • WC2018 Qualifiers: Morocco beat Gabon with hattrick of Boutaib

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Morocco are back on top of Group C with 9 points!

    Full Time!

    See all goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz9WT9WNqJc

    3 minutes of additional time!

    89' Amine Harit makes his debut and replaced Nourdin Amrabat

    80' Two subs in Morocco line up: Badr Banoun replaced Mehdi Benatia and Aziz Bouhaddouz replaced Khalid Boutaib

    Benatia booked

    Khalid Boutaib scores a hattrick, 3-0 for Morocco against Gabon!

    See goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNOtS3s9Tbw

    70' Nabil Dirar booked!

    Again goal of Khalid Boutaib in the 55th minute! and 2-0 for Morocco against Gabon

    See Goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMU5YgqN9kE

    second half underway!

    Half Time!

    Morocco take the lead 1-0 by header of Khalid Boutaib in the 37' minute

    See goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmQSjECEoys

    Match is underway!

    Location: Complexe Sportif Mohammed V / Casablanca (MAR)

    Competition: WC 2018 Qualifiers

    Kick off: 19h00 GMT, 21h00 CET, 15h00 EDT

    Referee: GOMES Victor Miguel De Freitas (RSA)

    Morocco starting line up:

    Munir El Kajoui-Achraf Hakim-Mehdi Benatia (C)-Ghanim Saiss-Nabil Dirar-Karim El Ahmadi-Younes Belhanda-Mbark Boussoufa-Nourdin Amrabat-Hakim Ziyech-Khalid Boutaib.

    Subs:

    1 BOUNOU YASSINE

    22 TAGNAOUTI AHMED REDA

    11 FAJR FAYçAL

    18 TANNANE OUSSAMA

    9 MAHI MIMOUN

    23 ALIOUI RACHID

    20 BOUHADDOUZ AZIZ

    15 AIT BENNASSER YOUSSEF

    4 BENOUN BADR

    3 CHAFIK FOUAD

    21 OUNNAJEM MOHAMMED

    19 HARIT AMINE

    Coach: Herve Renard

    Live streaming video: http://arryadia.snrt.ma/

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  • WC2018 Qualifiers: Ivory Coast's World Cup hopes in the balance after draw in Mali

    BAMAKO, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The Ivory Coast extended their lead at the top of Group C in their World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday, but the 0-0 draw away to Mali means they can now be overtaken by Morocco.

    Russian-based striker Moussa Doumbia missed a first half sitter and struck the crossbar in the second half as the hosts, already out of contention for a place at next year's finals, came close to their first win of the campaign.

    The Ivorians, who lost several key players to injury on the eve of the game, moved to eight points from five matches, two more than Morocco who play on Saturday at home to Gabon.

    Should the Moroccans win, they will go top by a point and set up a potentially dramatic conclusion to the group next month when they travel to the Ivory Coast for their last match.

    The Ivorians have been to the last three World Cup finals but turned in a listless showing on Friday.

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  • WC2018 Qualifiers: Morocco out to demolish Gabon

    Morocco will be gunning for a victory at home as they welcome Gabon for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

    Fresh from a 6-0 win and a 0-0 draw against the Eagles of Mali last month, the hosts will want to claim a convincing win.

    The Lions of Atlas are favourites to book a spot in Russia next year and winning their matches at home is seen as a step towards that mission.

    Coach Herve Renard's men sit at number two in the Group C with six points from one win and three draws, but will be motivated at home.

    Looking at the Panthers, Gabon occupy the third spot with five points with two draws, one loss and one win.

    Although they failed to bag a win at home in the first match last year, the 2017 CAF African Cup of Nations hosts will be under pressure to secure a win.

    A win for them will see them up to eight points and topple their hosts, but Morocco will have nine points if they win.

    The World Cup Qualifier will be staged on Saturday at the Stade Mohammed V at 21:00 (CET).

    http://africanfootball.com//news/731067/Morocco-out-to-demolish-Gabon

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  • 2018 WCQ - AfricanFootball looks at the permutations for Group C

    AfricanFootball.com takes a closer look at who needs what to secure qualification for the 2018 World Cup ahead of this weekend’s round of matches. Today we focus on Group C: Ivory Coast, Morocco, Gabon and Mali.

    Where and when are the games?

    Friday 6 October

    Mali v Ivory Coast - Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako - 21h00 CAT

    Saturday 7 October

    Morocco v Gabon - Stade Mohamed V, Casablanca - 21h00 CAT

    Who needs what to qualify?

    This one of the more open groups in the qualifiers and none of the four teams have been mathematically eliminated. In fact, leaders Ivory Coast cannot guarantee a place in Russia 2018 even if they win in Mali on Friday and the other game on Saturday between Morocco and Gabon ends in a draw.

    That scenario would see the Elephants lead by three points with one round to go, and would be the closest any of the teams can get to qualification in this round of games.

    What’s likely to happen?

    Tough to say, but given that Mali held both Gabon and Morocco to goalless draws in their previous home matches, it wouldn’t be stretch to imagine the Eagles frustrating the Elephants in Bamako on Friday night.

    This would open the door for Herve Renard’s Morocco to overtake his former team at the top of the log with a win at home to Gabon. The Atlas Lions recorded a 6-0 thrashing of Mali in their last home game and will believe a victory over the Panthers is well within reach.

    Whatever happens this weekend, we know that qualification can only be decided in the final round of matches next month, most likely in the showdown between Ivory Coast and Morocco.

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