• 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.

  • Moroccans Abroad: Ahly coach hails top scorer Azaro, delays league's title celebration

    Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry has hailed the outstanding performance of in-form striker Walid Azaro after seeing the Moroccan score a double in Monday's 5-0 league victory over bottom side Nasr, insisting that the club's 40th league title isn't secured yet.

    "It is a good thing for Azaro to be the league's top scorer. He is progressing very well and adapted quickly with the team," El-Badry told ON Sport TV channel after the match.

    "He exerted much effort, neglecting the criticism and made the best use of his teammates' support," he added.

    The 22-year-old joined Ahly last summer from Morocco's Difaa El-Jadida but initially struggled to break into the team's starting line-up.

    However, his pace and physique prompted El-Badry to rely on him, quickly becoming Ahly's number one choice upfront and also the Egyptian Premier League's top scorer with 16 goals.

    Ahly secured their 12th successive league victory over Nasr to ensure their leadership of the League table with 66 points, extending the gap with second-placed Ismaily to 20 points.

    "The league's title race is not over yet. You can celebrate with achieving the title only when you extend the gap with the second-placed team to a number which is more than the remaining matches' number," El-Badry explained.

    "I want to thank all players for the harmony in our performance despite the rotation in some positions," he concluded.


  • Hossam El-Badry: Walid Azaro qualified to join Morocco squad

    Al Ahly head coach Hossam El-Badry believes that Walid Azaro is qualified to join the Moroccan squad that is set to participate in the 2018 World Cup.

    Azaro joined Al Ahly last summer coming from Moroccan side Difaa El Jadida. His latest performances have been exceptional, as he has been scoring week in, week out for the Red Devils.

    The Morocco international is now the top goalscorer of the Egyptian Premier League with 14 goals, two ahead of Misr El-Makassa’s John Antwi and Omar El-Said from Wadi Degla.

    The Red Devils coach spoke about Azaro’s chances of joining the Morocco squad that will be participating in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    “I can say that Azaro is highly qualified to join the Morocco national team. He has improved drastically and I hope that he will earn his spot in the Moroccan squad that will be heading to the World Cup,” El-Badry told Arryadia TV.

    Morocco were drawn in Group B alongside former World Cup champions Spain, Euro 2016 winners Portugal and Iran.

    “Morocco have a great group of players. They will be facing top class teams in the World Cup, but I think all teams have their chances,” he added.


  • WC 2018: African nations finalise World Cup warm-up matches

    (ESPN) All of Africa's World Cup bound teams have finalised warm-up friendlies for next month, as they seek to get in potentially vital preparation ahead of their trip to Russia in mid-year.

    Senegal were the last of the five countries to fix games for the international window between March 19-28, but all now have a decent diet to give themselves a solid test in the last window of opportunity while the players are still at their respective clubs.

    Nigeria will go to Poland and then take on Serbia in London while Egypt are basing themselves in Switzerland for friendlies against Portugal and Bulgaria.

    Morocco and Tunisia will play one match each at home and then another in Europe.

    Morocco start against Serbia on Friday, 23 March, with the game set for Turin in Italy, and then go home to Casablanca for a home game on Tuesday, 27 March with Uzbekistan, who have been invited because they might replicate the style of Iran, who share Morocco's group at the World Cup.

    Uzbekistan will arrive in Morocco earlier so that they can play Senegal on 23 March, also in Casablanca.

    Senegal then go onto France, where they will play Bosnia-Herzegovina on 27 March. The venue is yet to be fixed but will be either Beauvais or Le Havre.

    Tunisia's football federation announced last week they would play Iran at the Rades Stadium on 23 March and then travel to Nice, France for a meeting with Costa Rica on neutral territory.

    The Tunisians also detailed their post-season preparations, which include an 11-day camp at altitude in the Swiss Alps.

    They will also play two friendlies, likely against club opposition, during their stay in Verbier from 28 May-5 June.

    Tunisia have already held a training camp for locally-based players at the turn of the year as the top local clubs have allowed coach Nabil Maaloul to call up their players outside the FIFA window for national team activity.

    Tunisia is the only one of the five African sides going to Russia who draw the majority of their squad members from their domestic championship.

    But the recent transfer of the likes of Ferjani Sassi to Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Amine Ben Amor and Hamid Nagguez to Egypt has seen the Tunisian federation cancel plans for furthers camps. They feel these are no longer necessary because too many key squad members are now no longer available as their new employers in Europe would not release them for the ad-hoc camps which Maaloul had planned for this month and March.

    But the Tunisia coach will still get his goalkeeping candidates for brief get-togethers from 19-21 February, 23-25 April and 30 April-2 May.

    Egypt must still fix their May plans but can also be expected to head back to Switzerland after their two March games.

    Morocco's federation have yet to announce their post league season, pre-World Cup training plans but local reports say they will also be going to Switzerland, after first assembling at the national training centre in Maamoura on 20 May.

    Morocco will be based some 1500 metres above sea level at Crans Montana where training in the thin air will boost fitness levels before going to a tough group in Russia, where they face Iran, Portugal and Spain.

    A friendly against Nigeria in Austria is also planned for 9 June.

    Nigeria have already pencilled in a date at Wembley against England on 2 June.

    Nigeria will also be in London next month at The Hive, home of League Two strugglers Barnet, where they will take on Serbia. It will be the second time Nigeria have played there, previously taking on Senegal in a 1-1 last March.

    Senegal's two games next month will be followed by three more internationals in the weeks leading up to the World Cup, which kicks off on 14 June.

    The Lions meet Luxembourg away on May 31, then Croatia in Zagreb on June 8 and will play one more game on 12 June. That opponent and venue has yet to be fixed.

    Coach Aliou Cisse will have his players from 21-24 May for their first camp in Senegal before they go onto Vittel in France which will be their base camp right up until departure for Russia.

  • Moroccans Abroad: El Yamiq excited by Genoa move

    By Football Italia

    New Genoa defender Jawad El Yamiq is relishing his transfer and reveals Juventus star Medhi Benatia “is like a brother to me.”

    The Morocco international turns 26 later this month and made the move from Raja Casablanca on transfer deadline day.

    “I didn’t expect to come to Genoa, but when the offer arrived, I had no doubts and immediately accepted. I will give my all for this club,” he said.

    “I am a quick player and good in the air. I think I’m also strong in physical duels with opponents, but of course I’m not perfect and can always improve. I’ve played with a three-man defence before, so it’s not an issue. If the Coach asks, I’ll even play in goal!

    “I called Adel Taarabt before coming to Genoa and he spoke very highly of the city. I can see he was right, it’s beautiful. I am at an ambitious club with a glorious history and hope to be a protagonist in its future.”

    Taarabt isn’t the only player who can help El Yamiq settle in Serie A, as he considers Juventus centre-back Benatia “like a brother to me. He encouraged me to come here and take this opportunity.

    “I talk to him every day and he pushes me on to do more, because doing well in Italy will be very important for my career. It’s helpful that there is already such a big Moroccan community in Genoa, including my sister. That’s why I’ve known about the Genoa Derby for many years. I always asked her to send me a jersey and she never did. Now I have one of my own.”

  • From zero to hero: Ahly's Moroccan striker Azaro in stellar form

    Almost four months ago, Walid Azaro was vilified by Ahly's demanding supporters for being a "flop signing" as he struggled in front of goal, wasting numerous clear-cut chances.

    Coach Hossam El-Badry, who blessed his signing from Morocco's Difaa El Jadida for $1.4 million last summer, kept faith with the 22-year-old and he is now repaying his trust with a series of clinical displays.

    Azaro is now Ahly and the Egyptian Premier League's top scorer with 14 goals, two clear of El-Entag El-Harby's Omar El-Said and Maqassa's Ghanaian striker John Antwi.

    "I have to thank El-Badry because he is the main reason that I'm now the league's top scorer. I'm very happy with my current form and I promise the fans that I will give even more," Azaro told an Egyptian radio station on Tuesday.

    "I was heavily criticised at the beginning and everyone waited for me to score just one goal. Nobody noticed what I was offering apart from the goals."

    Azaro has a valid point.

    Although goals were hard to come by, Azaro made it easier for Ahly's deep-lying forwards and playmakers to carve out openings, thanks to his blistering pace that caused a constant menace to his markers and allowed him to ghost behind defences far too easily.

    What Azaro needed was perhaps more confidence after the fans grew impatient with his profligacy. While the club are hardly troubled in a domestic league they usually dominate, they could ill-afford to squander easy chances in the lucrative African Champions League where the competition was fierce.

    Ahly lost the Champions League final to Morocco's Wydad Casablanca but with the club finding little competition in the Egyptian league, the stage was set for Azaro to prove his worth without much pressure.

    In November, Azaro started to deliver. He netted two goals in a 2-1 win over El-Entag El-Harby and was on target in three consecutive victories over Dakhleya, Masry and Enppi.

    His latest salvo came in Monday's crushing 5-2 victory over Arab Contractors, scoring a double with two trademark poacher's efforts. He also had a goal disallowed in the first half for an alleged handball.

    Azaro's inspired form could earn him a call-up for Morocco's national team as they gear up for the World Cup in Russia, where several of his Ahly teammates will be also in action with Egypt.

    "I dream of being present in Russia (next summer). I want to be with Morocco and among the world's greats," he added.


  • Transfers: Othman El Kabir joins Russian top division side FC Ural from Swedish club Djurgarden.


    Morocco will be based in the city of Voronezh for their 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.

    Moroccan newspaper Al Akhbar revealed on Monday that Herve Renard’s Atlas Lions will be housed at the Marriott Voronej Hotel and will train at Chaika Stadium.

    Voronezh is located approximately 450 kilometres south of Moscow and 200 kilomteres north-east of the border with Ukraine.

    Morocco are set to play in Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Kaliningrad for their Group B matches against Iran, Portugal and Spain respectively.

    They will reportedly travel to each city from Voronezh the day before the game and train in the World Cup stadiums.

    FIFA expect all teams to be situated in their base camps five days before the start of the tournament on June 14.


  • Confederation Cup: Morocco's Ayoub El Kaabi scores for Renaissance Berkane

    (BBC Sports) Morocco's Ayoub El Kaabi, the top scorer at the recent African Nations Championship (CHAN), scored again at the weekend this time for his club Renaissance Berkane in the Confederation Cup.

    His goal on Sunday helped Berkane beat visiting Mbour Petite Cote of Senegal 2-1 in the first leg of the preliminary round tie,

    He scored in the 66th-minute soon after the visitors had Adama Gueye red-carded, and it cancelled out the lead Baba Sow gave the west Africans before half-time.

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

    Laba Kodjo struck on 76 minutes to give Berkane an uncomfortably narrow advantage ahead of the return match.

    A remarkable four penalties were missed before Asante Kotoko of Ghana converted one in stoppage time to edge CARA of Congo-Brazzaville 1-0 on Sunday.

    Saddick Adams fired the first Kotoko spot-kick wide before team-mates Amos Frimpong and Baba Mahama had their attempts saved in Kumasi.

    The Congolese side also had a penalty saved before Mohammed Yakubu eventually converted one.

    The second legs of the ties are set to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday 20-21 February.

    Confederation Cup results - preliminary round 1st leg

    Sunday's Results:

    APR (Rwanda) 4-0 Anse Reunion (Seychelles)

    AFC Leopards (Kenya) 1-1 Fosa Juniors (Madagascar)

    Akwa Utd (Nigeria) 1-2 Hawks (The Gambia)

    Asante Kotoko (Ghana) 1-0 CARA (Congo)

    Simba (Tanzania) 4-0 Gendarmerie Nationale (Djibouti)

    Renaissance Berkane (Morocco) 2-1 Mbour Petite Cote (Senegal)

    Africa Sports (Ivory Coast) 1-1 Nouadhibou (Mauritania)

    Zimamoto (Zanzibar) 1-1 Wolaitta Dicha (Ethiopia)

    Saturday's Results:

    Petro Atletico (Angola) 5-0 Masters Security (Malawi) 0

    Young Buffaloes (Swaziland) 0-1 Cape Town City (South Africa)

    Costa do Sol (Mozambique) 1-1 Jwaneng Galaxy (Botswana) 0

    Energie (Benin) 1-0 Hafia (Guinea)

    Ngazi (Comoros) 1-1 Port Louis (Mauritius)

    Mangasport (Gabon) 0-1 Maniema Union (DR Congo)

    Olympic Star (Burundi) 0-0 Etoile Filante (Burkina Faso)

    New Stars (Cameroon) 2-1 Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea)

    Tanda (Ivory Coast) 0-0 La Mancha (Congo)

    Al Ittihad (Libya) 1-0 Sahel (Niger)

    Al Masry (Egypt) 4-0 Green Buffaloes (Zambia)

    Friday's Result:

    Onze Createurs (Mali) 1-1 Belouizdad (Algeria)


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