• WC 2018: Iran ready to face Morocco at 2018 World Cup

    (Xinhua) -- Iran's national soccer coach Carlos Queiroz said they are completely ready to meet Morocco at the 2018 World Cup, Tehran Times daily reported on Wednesday.

    "Morocco is an African country but most of their players were born in the European countries and grown up there. They take advantage of a good coach and have also creative players. We respect them a lot and I am sure they respect us a lot too," Queiroz told reporters at BaBakovkaamp in Russia.

    The Portuguese said his men want to beat Morocco but there is no guarantee to win the match.

    "However we can guarantee we will fight until the end. Actions, of course, do speak louder than words, and we want to act," he added.

    Iran, making their fifth appearance in the World Cup finals, kick off their campaign against the Atlas Lions in St Petersburg on June 15.

    Queiroz says to defeat the African powerhouses will help them to book a place in the knockout stage for the first time ever, though it will be a difficult task.

    Queiroz's side, meanwhile, face Spain in Kazan on June 20 before meeting Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Saransk five days later.

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  • WC 2018: Fernando Hierro to take charge of Spain at World Cup

    Spain's sporting director Fernando Hierro will lead the country at the World Cup.

    Hierro, who is a member of Spain's party for the tournament in Russia, has been installed in the role after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui from the role on Wednesday.

    Lopetegui was removed from his role after taking up the vacant Real Madrid job just two days before Spain play Portugal in their Group B opener.

    Hierro was also involved with the Spanish national team which defeated Holland in the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

    The 50-year-old, who was the assistant to Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid in 2014, managed Spanish side Real Oviedo during the 2016-17 season.

    https://www.sportsmole.co.uk/football/world-cup/news/fernando-hierro-to-take-charge-of-spain_328230.html

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  • WC 2026: United 2026 Wins Rights to Host FIFA 2026 World Cup

    (Morocco World News) United 2026 has won the rights to host the 2026 World Cup with 67% percent of the vote on Wednesday at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow.

    Morocco’s bid was knocked out from the race with 65 votes, amounting to 33% of the vote.

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  • WC 2018: JULEN LOPETEGUI SACKED BY SPAIN ON EVE OF WORLD CUP

    Spain's World Cup preparations have been thrown into chaos as Julen Lopetegui, yesterday named Real Madrid's next manager, has been dismissed just two days before Spain open the tournament.

    Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as head coach of Spain, just two days before their opening match at the 2018 World Cup.

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  • Transfers: FUS Rabat defender Nayef Aguerd has signed a three-year deal with Ligue 1 outfit Dijon

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  • WC 2026: The Netherlands Will Vote for Morocco to Host World Cup 2026

    (Morocco World News) Rabat – The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has announced that it will vote for Morocco’s bid to win the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup on Wednesday, June 13, at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow.

    The Netherlands announced its decision to back Morocco’s bid on the eve of the vote. The news was confirmed by Dutch news outlet AD today.

    “We want to do something for all the good things Africa and Morocco have brought to Dutch football in recent years,’ said van Praag, President of the KNVB.

    He added that the Dutch federation chose the Moroccan bid to show loyalty “to an important part of our Dutch society, namely to the community that is rooted in Morocco. This loyalty is a logical consequence of the KNVB’s aim for diversity on all fronts in our society. We therefore see it as a moral obligation to vote for Morocco.”

    Several Moroccan footballers play on Dutch football teams, making their footprints notable in Dutch football fields, including Nordin Amrabat, Ibrahim Affelay, Karim EL Ahmadi, Mbark Boussoufa, Hakim Ziyech, and Sofyan Amrabat.

    Several European countries announced their support for Morocco 2026, including France, Serbia, Russia, Belgium and Luxembourg.

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  • Amine Harit: Heart on his sleeve

    (Schalke04) It was a season full of highs for Amine Harit at S04. But there’s more to come. On Friday (15.06.), the World Cup begins for the Moroccan playmaker. The 20-year-old spoke to schalke04.de about the tournament in Russia.

    Amine, how excited are you for the World Cup?

    I just can’t express how excited I am. You don’t get the chance to play in a World Cup every year. It’s a momentous occasion. We also mustn’t forget that Morocco have not competed for 20 years. Now we have the opportunity to travel to Russia and take part. So we all just can’t wait.

    What sort of level are your team at?

    For me, there aren’t many African teams who are better than us. That wasn’t the case over the last few years, though. I really believe that the team we have now is very solid, with some high quality players.

    How well do you think you can do in a group with Portugal, Spain and Iran?

    Spain and Portugal are of course the favourites. That’s clear and unsurprising. But at the end of the day, it’s football. It’s played with your head and your heart on your sleeve. It all depends on what kind of character you show. We don’t need to look at what others are doing, rather focus entirely on ourselves. Every one of us must give it everything.

    Who are the key players in your team?

    I think everyone would agree: our captain Mehdi Benatia is a superb defender, who is very important for us. But I’d name other players too: Younes Belhanda, Nabir Dirar or Hakim Ziyech. They all play for top clubs. Naturally, we don’t have a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. But team spirit is absolutely crucial in such a tournament. Sure, individual quality is important. But even more so is the need to work well as a group. You’re together for four weeks or longer. It’s not easy to gel as a team in such a time frame. You never know what will happen.

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  • Press review: Morocco quintet gives absent Dutch reason to enjoy World Cup

    MOSCOW (Reuters) - When the Dutch sit down to watch the World Cup kick off in Russia on Thursday, the absence of their orange-clad team from the 32 participating nations will be the bitterest of reminders of just how far they have fallen down the global pecking order.

    However, five Netherlands-born players are likely to line-up for Morocco when they open their Group B campaign against Iran in St Petersburg on Friday, ensuring an opportunity for the Dutch to follow events with more than just passing interest.

    Street celebrations in Dutch cities when Morocco sealed qualification emphasised the excitement among the 400,000-odd community in the Netherlands, and fulsome coverage in the media in recent weeks has given a sense that the rest of the country has adopted the team for the tournament.

    A Dutch-born contingent has been part of the Moroccan side for more than a decade and the quintet of Mbark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, Hakim Ziyech and the Amrabat brothers — Nordin and Sofyan — are likely to enjoy prominent roles in Russia.

    European-born players, drawn from the Diaspora, now dominate many major African national teams and are actively sought out to strengthen sides. For some, it means making a tough choice regarding their international careers.

    In the Netherlands, it has been a contentious issue with Dutch-born players electing to compete for other countries previously accused of “committing a form of treason”.

    Ziyech was selected three years ago by Guus Hiddink when he was coach of the Netherlands but withdrew because of an injury and never got another call-up. Instead, he agreed to play for Morocco.

    LESS CRITICISM

    “It worked out the way it worked out, and I don’t have a single second’s regret,” Ziyech said. “With Morocco I feel valued. There isn’t a constant search for criticism as there is in the Netherlands.

    “I grew up in the Netherlands but I must honestly say that when I hear the national anthem of Morocco I feel a connection with the country,” Ahmadi told a recent news conference.

    The World Cup offers a chance for the Dutch to set aside the debate over dual nationals, and where their loyalties ought to lie, and collectively get behind five of their own, even if they are wearing the red and green of Morocco rather than orange.

    “I hope that the Netherlands are solidly behind us,” El Ahmadi added.

    “Just as I, for all these years, have supported the Dutch national team at the World Cup when Morocco didn’t participate. I think that if we find each other, we can all be proud.”

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  • Press review: Ziyech warns World Cup rivals not to underestimate Morocco

    (KweséESPN) Morocco may have their backs to the wall when they go to the World Cup, having been grouped with European champions Portugal and Spain, but Hakim Ziyech says there is no point in traveling to Russia if they don't fancy their chances of winning.

    Blunt speaking has long been a hallmark of a player who has seems to have a magnet for attracting controversy and does not temper that with his attitude to the game.

    "If we don't believe that we can progress, what is the point of going to the tournament?" the Ajax Amsterdam midfielder told KweséESPN as Morocco headed to the World Cup for the first time since 1998.

    Ziyech was only five at the time, born in the Dutch coastal town of Dronten to Moroccan émigré parents.

    Like many with a similar heritage, he has turned down the overtures of the Dutch football association to rather play for Morocco, and while 'Oranje' sit at home watching Russia 2018 on television, Ziyech is now at the Moroccan base camp in Voronezh preparing for their opening Group B game against Iran in St Petersburg on Friday.

    "I had hoped that the Dutch team would have qualified too, but it does confirm that I made the right choice for Morocco," Ziyech said. "I didn't need confirmation, but now that I have it, that's good too.

    "It means a lot to have qualified for the World Cup. It is the first time in 20 years that we've made the World Cup, and I'm proud to have been a part of the team that has achieved that.

    "I expected it would be a big thing for the people of Morocco that we qualified, but I didn't expect it to be as big as it was. It was crazy, all the celebrations. I felt very proud."

    Morocco came through their African group qualifiers without conceding a goal, and made sure of their place in the finals with a 2-0 away win last November over the Ivory Coast, who had been to three previous World Cups in a row.

    It has made the Moroccans the form team from the continent; a trend they continued in their pre-tournament preparations with a draw against Ukraine and victories over Slovakia and Estonia in their last warm-up games.

    But last December's finals draw delivered a monstrous task if they are to advance past the first round as one of the top two finishers in a group with Iran, Portugal and Spain. Still, Ziyech insists they are in Russia to make their mark.

    "This is a difficult group, but if we look at it through a positive lens it can be good ... good for us as players, but also good for us as a country," Ziyech said. "To play against these kinds of countries will be difficult, but it will be nice too. Playing against the likes of [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Andres] Iniesta is a great motivation, but we believe in ourselves."

    Morocco, adds Ziyech, must under no circumstances be underestimated: "If you look at the World Cup, every team that is playing must be considered a threat. If you are not a decent side then you don't qualify."

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  • WC 2018: Mehdi Taremi, Iran's top scorer set to miss out clash vs The Atlas Lions through injury!

    https://www.foxsports.nl/nieuws/artikel/2906979/topscorer-iran-onzeker-voor-openingsduel

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