• Transfers: Mounir El Hamdaoui joins FC Twente till end of season

    (TheAtlasLions.com) Former Morocco intenational striker Mounir El Hamdaoui has joined Dutch Eredivisie outfit FC Twente till end of season.

  • Transfers: Yassin Ayoub signs a four-year deal with Feyenoord

    (TheAtlasLions.com) FC Utrecht midfielder Yassin Ayoub has signed a four-year deal with Feyenoord Rotterdam.

    He will join Feyenoord as of next summer 2018 transfer fee.

  • WC 2026: Morocco pins hopes on 2026 World Cup bid

    Morocco has surprised everyone with its last-minute bid to organise the 2026 World Cup.

    Africa has hosted the football world's biggest showpiece only once - in 2010 when South Africa held the event.

    The man in charge of African football, Ahmad Ahmad, has given the country his full backing.

    "This is our hope and our dream because it is unfair that a great continent like Africa has only been allowed to organise one World Cup in a century," said the president of the Confederation of African Football.

    "I think it is legitimate for us to want one of our countries to make this commitment, and I myself as a president am committed to join in this bid."

    2026 will be the first expanded World Cup with 48 countries participating.

    The newly renovated Mohamed IV Stadium in Casablanca could be the main venue.

    But Morocco will first have to prove it can handle such a major event.

    Tough competition

    Morocco is building a good track record by currently hosting the continent's second biggest tournament - the African Nations Championship.

    It has also staged the bigger Africa Cup of Nations and the Francophone games, which featured 1,700 athletes.

    And although Morocco faces stiff competition from a joint US, Canada and Mexico bid, there is confidence despite four previous failed bids.

    "We are competing against stronger economies, but the voting system has changed, a lot of other things have changed," Toufik Senhaji, Moroccan football journalist, told Al Jazeera.

    "Morocco itself has changed during the last few years in terms of infrastructure. We have seen more development in Morocco," he said.

    Russia 2018 will be the Moroccan team's first World Cup for 20 years.


  • Transfers: Wydad Casablanca turn down Saudi offer for Achraf Bencharki

    (Aficanfootball.com) African champions Wydad Casablanca revealed that they have rejected an offer from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal for star forward Achraf Bencharki.

    Wydad posted the following statement on their website in regards to the $3-million offer made for Bencharki:

    “WAC received an offer from Saudi club, Al-Hilal, as mentioned in the attached statement. Chairperson of Wydad, Saeed Al-Nasseri, decided to keep Achraf Bencherki as a player for Wydad.”

    The 23-year-old has been on Wydad’s books since August 2016 and played a major role in their triumph in the 2017 CAF Champions League.

    He is currently representing hosts Morocco at the 2018 African Nations Championship and scored the final goal in the Atlas Lions’ opening 4-0 win over Mauritania on Saturday.

    Bencharki is also a key member of the full Morocco national team under coach Herve Renard, and he is expected to be a breakout star at the World Cup in Russia later this year.

  • Transfers: Yassin Ayoub will to join Feyenoord in the summer

    (TheAtlasLions.com) FC Utrecht midfielder Yassin Ayoub (24) will join Dutch Eredivisie giants Feyenoord Rotterdam in June on transfer free.

  • CHAN 2018: Sudan miss a penalty but beat Guinea 2-1

    (BBC Africa sport) Morocco is hosting the 2018 African Nations Championship with matches in Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangier and Agadir.

    Sudan missed a penalty but still managed to beat Guinea 2-1 in a near-empty stadium in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Casablanca.

    Maki Saifeldin missed the spot kick but made amends ten minutes later as he scored the winner in Group A of the tournament for home-based African players.

    Before that, the two sides traded headed goals with Omar Suleiman opening for Sudan in the first-half and Sekou 'Trezeguet' Camara equalising after the break.

    Guinea should have equalised in injury time but substitute Mohamed Thiam managed to push his shot wide of the open goal.

    It was a scrappy affair but despite plenty of chances neither side could control the game.

    Sudan took the lead in the 19th minute as defender Suleiman placed a header into the top corner from Al Samani Sawi's corner.

    In an eventful end to the first half, Saifeldin had a poor shot easily saved when through on goal and moments later there was a better effort from Camara that was well blocked.

    Then Mohamed 'Bisha' Bashir's curling shot hit the Guinea crossbar before Aboubacar Camara pushed an effort against the post of the Sudanese goal.

    Ten minutes into the second half, Camara made amends for his earlier misses when he rose to meet a ball curled into the area by Mohamed Bangoura with a powerful header to score the equaliser.

    Sudan should have taken the lead in the 65th minute when Walaa Eldin was brought down in the area and a penalty was given but Saifeldin put the spot kick over the bar.

    Mohamed 'Bisha' Bashir's back-heel had deflected into the path of Saifeldin 10 minutes later and he kept his cool to control the ball and nudge it home for the winner.

    Guinea pushed hard for an equaliser and came close when a shot was parried by the Sudan keeper El Hadi Salim Akram only for Thiam to scoop the ball wide of an open goal.

    It means that hosts Morocco and Sudan both now have three points from their opening Group A games after Morocco's 4-0 win over Mauritania on Saturday. Guinea and Mauritania are pointless.

    Next up for Sudan is a game against Mauritania while Guinea face hosts Morocco.

    Both matches take place on Wednesday in Casablanca.

  • Transfers: Yassine Ayoub linked with Nice move


  • CHAN 2018: Morocco ease past Mauritania 4-0 in opening match

    (BBC Africa sport) Wydad Casablanca's Achraf Bencharki scored in Morocco's opening victory over Mauritania at CHAN 2018.

    Hosts Morocco needed 65 minutes to break down a stubborn Mauritanian defence in the opening match of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Casablanca on Saturday, before winning 4-0.

    Poor weather meant the stadium was not at capacity for the Group A clash and those who were there saw a disappointing first half from Morocco.

    Despite the hosts' domination, they could not muster an effort on target in the first 45 minutes due to poor finishing and bad crossing.

    Morocco made their pressure pay in the final 25 minutes with Ayoub El Kaabi scoring either side of a goal from Ismail El Haddad, before Achraf Bencharki flicked home a fourth in injury time.

    The tournament, which is for African footballers based in their own domestic leagues, features 16 teams with the final on 4 February.

    Before the match, Mauritania's' coach Corentin Martins said his side could not simply defend and that they would have to try and attack as well, which is what his team tried to do early on.

    Mauritania were forced into a rethink in the first half as their defenders were caught out trying to push too far up field.

    The local Atlas Lions were unable to convert their dominance and in fact it was Mauritania who had the only shot on target in the first half with a long range effort that was easily saved by Anas Zniti in the Moroccan goal.

    In the second-half Mauritania's keeper Brahim Souleimane further frustrated Morocco with two excellent saves from close range.

    He was finally beaten when he rushed out to try and save at the feet of El Kaabi who calmly slotted the ball under him to score.

    Souleimane will feel he should have saved El Haddad's shot for the second goal on 72 minutes as the ball somehow dipped under his outstretched hand.

    El Kaabi found himself in plenty of space eight minutes later and had time to pick a spot with a low shot across the keeper.

    The win was completed in injury time by Bencharki, who as a member of the full Moroccan national squad surprisingly started on the bench, as he managed to flick the ball home from the tightest of angles.

    The other Group A game is on Sunday when Guinea play Sudan.

    Next up for Morocco is Guinea while Mauritania face Sudan, both matches are on Wednesday in Casablanca.

  • Transfers: Zinedine Machach joins Napoli

    (sscnapoli.it) Napoli have completed the signing of 22-year-old French midfielder Zinedine Machach from Toulouse.

    Born in Marseille on 5 January 1996, Machach made his Ligue 1 debut for Toulouse in the 2015/16 season at the age of 19, making 17 appearances in his maiden season. He spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Marseille.

    In total, Machach has made Ligue 1 38 appearances, scoring three goals.

  • CHAN 2018: Hosts Morocco hammer Mauritania in dream debut

    (AFP) Hosts and title favourites Morocco ran riot in the second half to defeat neighbours Mauritania 4-0 Saturday in the opening match of the 2018 African Nations Championship.

    Ayoub el Kaabi broke brave resistance from the Mauritanians on 66 minutes and Ismail el Haddad added a second goal six minutes later at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca.

    El Kaabi bagged a brace 10 minutes from time before being substituted as Morocco made an impressive start in Group A, where Guinea tackle Sudan Sunday at the same venue.

    Morocco started with three of 2017 CAF Champions League-winning Wydad Casablanca team, but only brought on star attackers Achraf Bencharki and Walid el Karti in the closing stages.

    Bencharki completed the rout with a stoppage-time goal as Morocco came within one goal of matching the record winning margin at the tournament set by Tunisia two years ago.

    Victory for the hosts brought a cheerful end to a sad day for Moroccan football with former star Hamid Hazzaz dying of a heart attack aged 72 just hours before the tournament began.

    Known as "The Spider", Hazzaz was part of the Morocco 1970 World Cup squad and the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations for the only time six years later.

    A colourful opening ceremony preceded the first match and 14-year-old crown prince Moulay el Hassan got the tournament under way with a symbolic kick-off.

    The young royal also shook hands with each player and the match officials and posed for team pictures with the Moroccans and Mauritanians.

    Staged every two years, the Nations Championship is restricted to home-based footballers and the Democratic Republic of Congo (twice), Tunisia and Libya won previous editions.

    In other Sunday fixtures, the Ivory Coast play debutants Namibia and Zambia face Uganda in Group B in Marrakech.


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