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The Atlas Lions

Les Lions de l'Atlas

Latest News of The Atlas Lions

By The Atlas Lions, Jan 3 2019 01:39PM

Weekly magazine «France Football» has selected three Atlas Lions, namely Manuel Da Costa, Achraf Hakimi, and Hakim Ziyech, for its African team of the year, reports MAP news agency.


The names of the three Moroccan internationals appear alongside other football stars in Africa, including Egypt’s Mohammed Salah, Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez, Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly, and Sadio Mané.


Yassine Bounou, a Moroccan footballer who plays currently for Girona FC, was also on the list.




...More : https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/72890/costa-hakimi-ziyech-african-team.html

By The Atlas Lions, Dec 29 2018 03:17PM

Three Moroccan footballers’ performances with both their clubs and Morocco’s national football team have earned them the chance to win “Maghreb Player of the Year.”


By Morocco World News -


Rabat – France Football has slated three Moroccan international players for its “Maghreb Player of the Year” shortlist.


Ajax’s attacking midfielder, Hakim Ziyech; Juventus’ defender, Medhi Benatia; and Dortmund’s defender, Achraf Hakimi, have all made France Football magazine’s shortlist.


Benatia won last year’s award, ahead of Riyad Mahrez and Ziyech.


The magazine said that Benatia started well this year, profiting from defender Leonardo Bonucci’s 2017 departure from Juventus. But Bonucci’s return to Juventus in the summer cost Benatia his place among the starting 11 players.


It added that Benatia’s good year could have ended better without his penalty foul on Real Madrid’s Lucas Vazquez in the Champions League quarter finals.


According to France Football, Hakimi is a multi-talented player who plays on both left and right sides. He performed well during Real Madrid’s Champions League match against Atletico de Madrid.


Just 19, Hakimi has proved his maturity in the three matches he has played with the Morrocan national football team.


Ziyech is certainly one of the most talented players in Africa, wrote France Football. It added that he managed an outstanding performance in 2018 and was even voted best player of the 2017-2018 Netherlands Championship.


The magazine selected nine players from the Maghreb, including three players from Algeria and three others from Tunisia. The names of the remaining players have yet to be announced.

By The Atlas Lions, Dec 20 2018 07:53PM


Achraf Hakimi has been something of a revelation for Borussia Dortmund fans. The young Moroccan fullback has provided the Germans with a newfound sense of energy and athleticism on the right AND the left, helping propel the Yellow and Black to the top of the Bundesliga table.


In an interview with BVB Matchday Magazine, Achraf talks about his adjustment to life in a new country and explains why he decided to move to Dortmund.


Highlights From The Interview

You came here half a year ago? What can you tell us about this time? (1:46)


Achraf: “I’m very happy to play for Dortmund. It was difficult for me to adjust because I came from another country and from another language, so I had to adjust and do all this stuff. The truth is that it was a difficult process, but now I’m very content and happy.


Why did you want to go to another country? (2:16)


Achraf: “I grew up in all the Real Madrid youth teams and the truth is that it has been a difficult process, and I needed a change in my personal and footballing life. I needed to grow as a footballer with a lot more minutes and to achieve big things in my career, and it was the right moment to do it. Currently everything is going great and I hope it continues for much longer.”


You became a football player at Real Madrid, where winning is part of the club’s self-conception. Did you bring that self-confidence with you to Dortmund? (7:47)


Achraf: “Yes, I am always a winner, I am always very competitive. I know that Madrid is a club that inculcates this into you. But, always in my life, even with my friends, when I play on the Playstation or whatever, I always hate to lose and I get really upset. So, also in my personal life, I like to be a winner and be competitive.”


What are the differences between La Liga and the Bundesliga? If there are any, what is the biggest one? (8:35)


Achraf: “In the Spanish league, you play a little more of a possession game. But here, I believe that some teams also try to have the ball. But I believe that the difference here is that they play more back and forth. In Spain, you play with a little bit more control of the ball.”


What’s typically Spanish and what’s typically Moroccan about you? (9:10)


Achraf: “What’s typically Moroccan about me, is my religion and all the food my mom always cooked when I was young. What’s typically Spanish about me... are my friends and that I grew up in Spain and that I know a little bit about the Spanish life.”



By The Atlas Lions, Dec 11 2018 01:27PM

(BBC Sports) Morocco's defender Achraf Hakimi, who is on loan from Real Madrid at German club Borussia Dortmund, has won a second Bundesliga's Rookie of the Month award.


The 20-year-old beat strikers Jean-Philippe Mateta of Mainz and Fortuna Düsseldorf's Dodi Lukebakio to November's prize, after winning it in September.


His brace of awards mean he earns a nomination for the award as the Bundesliga Rookie of the season.


If he wins the end-of-season title he will succeed compatriot Amine Harit, who was the Bundesliga's Rookie for the 2017/18 season.


An ever-present in the squad, the Moroccan has made a strong impact as Dortmund remain unbeaten in the league and currently sit top of the Bundesliga table.


The Real Madrid academy graduate made nine league appearances for the Spanish club under Zinedine Zidane last season.


As well as his league appearances Hakimi also played five times in the Copa del Rey and twice in the Champions League before sealing a two-year loan switch to Germany in July.


"We will try to do what we did with Paco [Alcacer, who was signed on permanent deal from Barcelona recently]," said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.


German legend Lothar Matthaus is the face of the award and chooses his top three players every month, after data is used to say who is performing the best in the league.


Hakimi, an attacking full-back, started all three of Morocco's games at the World Cup in Russia before they were eliminated in the group stage.


He has played all the Group B matches so far as the Atlas Lions sealed a return to next year's Africa Cup of Nations.

By The Atlas Lions, Dec 5 2018 01:37PM

By Morocco World News


It has been a good season for Moroccan rising star Achraf Hakimi. Hakimi topped CIES’ list as the best fullback in the European leagues this season.


Rabat – The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) has ranked Borussia Dortmund’s star Achraf Hakimi as the top fullback in the European leagues in the last three months.


With a score of 85.3, Hakimi outperformed several internationally renowned fullbacks, including Brazilian Juventus star Alex Sandro, who was ranked second with a score of 84.5.


Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich came third with a score of 83.9, while Joao Cancelo of Juventus was fourth with a score of 82.9.


Dortmund signed a 2-year loan for the Atlas Lion with Real Madrid in July.


The 20-year-old football player made his official debut at the Santiago Bernabeu in October 2017. He has since become one of Morocco’s key players and proved his worth alongside the Atlas Lions during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


Dortmund is highly satisfied with Hakimi’s performance this season in the Bundesliga.


The managing director of the German football club, Hans-Joachim Watzke, announced Dortmund’s intention to convert Hakim’s loan contract to a permanent agreement after convincing Real Madrid.


After securing a deal with Paco Alcacer, who had been playing for Dortmund on loan from Barcelona, Watke said as Sport reported, “Dear Paco Alcacer, welcome to Borussia Dortmund … We hope to do the same thing with Achraf Hakimi, but it will not be easy.”


In February, CIES Football Observatory ranked the international footballer among Europe’s “50 most promising under-20 footballers.”

By The Atlas Lions, Nov 30 2018 01:36PM

The nominees for the various categories of the CAF Awards 2018 have been finalized.


African Player of the year

Ayoub El Kaabi (Morocco & Hebei China Fortune)

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco & Ajax)

Ismail Haddad (Morocco & Wydad Athletic Club)

Mahmoud Benhalib (Morocco & Raja Club Athletic)

Mehdi Benatia (Morocco & Juventus)


Youth player of the year

Achraf Hakimi (Morocco & Borussia Dortmunmd)

Mahmoud Benhalib (Morocco & Raja Club Athletic)


Men’s coach of the year

Rachid Taoussi (ES Sétif)

Herve Renard (Morocco)


The Awards Gala, to honour footballers and officials who distinguished themselves during the year under review, will be held on Tuesday, 8 January 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.

By The Atlas Lions, Nov 26 2018 12:32PM

Hans-Joachim Watzke said the Bundesliga club will try to land the Morocco international on a permanent deal from Real Madrid but warned: "It will not be easy."


Borussia Dortmund will attempt to secure loanee defender Achraf Hakimi on a permanent deal, according to club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.


The 20-year-old is on a two-year loan from Real Madrid and has made eight league appearances in Dortmund's unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season.


Watzke used a speech to his playing staff to welcome Paco Alcácer to the club after activating the option to purchase the Spain striker from Barcelona outright and stated his intent to follow up the deal with another one for Hakimi.


"Dear Paco Alcácer, welcome to Borussia Dortmund," said Watzke, who was speaking at the club's annual assembly.


"And Achraf Hakimi - we will try to do the same thing with you, even though it will not be easy."


Hakimi made nine league appearances for Madrid in 2017-18, scoring twice for the club then coached by Zinedine Zidane.


Since then, Julen Lopetegui's ill-fated spell in charge of Los Blancos has come and gone, and it is unclear whether his successor Santiago Solari will include Hakimi in his plans.


Morocco international Hakimi has made the left-back spot his own this season, limiting Raphael Guerreiro's opportunities in the first-team.



By The Atlas Lions, Nov 12 2018 09:48AM

Achraf Hakimi vs Bayern Munich:

All eyes were glued on “Der Klassiker” as the blockbuster match up in the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund have started the season on fire, and going into the match led Bayern Munich by four points at the top of the table. Lucien Farve has done a nice job rotating the full backs and found himself with a selection headache heading into the match. Four quality options for two spots: Achraf, Schmelzer, Guerro, and Piszczek. Of those four, Achraf seems to be the undisputed starter and his versatility has only aided his ability to gobble up minutes, easily interchanging between left and right back. Against Bayern, Achraf was deployed as a left back— the same position that saw him produce a hat trick of assists against Atletico Madrid.


The first half, Borussia Dortmund were underwhelming with Lucien Farve making the strange decision to start Mario Gotze as a false nine and give Julien Weigl the nod over Delaney, who has started the season spectacularly. Bayern dominated possession in the opening half, but Dortmund found their way through Kovac’s men via the counter on a number of occasions. Defensively, Bayern Munich were a shambles all night long. Though, with Bayern’s strong possession game, Achraf had to be tuned in defensively. Franck Ribery was having a field day playing against Piszczek, which meant Achraf had to be prepared to defend from the weak side. This season, that has been one of Achraf’s best attributes; time and time again Achraf was well positioned on the weak side to intercept a cross or track an incisive run. Given their early dominance, Bayern did find a way to goal. Robert Lewandowski scored a free diving header after Serge Gnarby was given too much time and space by Achraf to curl in a cross, while young center back, Dan Axel-Zagadou, was caught ball watching, rather than tracking Lewandowski who had peeled off him to create separation and nod the ball home.


It must have been some team talk at half-time from Lucien Farve, as Dortmund shed their reserved style and attacked Bayern from all fronts. Achraf, who was quiet on the offensive end in the first half, exploded into life in the second half. He constantly bombed down the flank to provide an attacking option for his teammates and help fuel a counter attack with his blazing speed. Unlike Marcelo, Achraf has the speed and the engine to get back and cover the space he leaves behind making him less of a liability defensively, while still being able to maintain the same attacking mindset. Ultimately, Dortmund roared back in the second half, scoring three goal and winning what was a thoroughly entertaining match by a 3-2 score line.


Stats via WhoScored:


Key Passes: 2


Passes: 42 with 71.4% completion rate


Shots: 1


Tackles: 4 (joint top on team)


Clearances: 4


Aerial Duels Won: 2


Touches: 75 (3rd most on team)







By The Atlas Lions, Nov 9 2018 07:45AM

Around 5 years ago, nobody would have expected Morocco to qualify for the world cup. Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire were the powerhouses of African football, possessing the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba, but as time progressed the Moroccans have slowly established a competitive squad. Part of the reason for their recent success has been the emergence of young Moroccan players in Europe's top flight leagues.


Achraf Hakimi, born in Madrid, joined Real Madrid's youth set-up at the tender age of 8 and made his professional debut for the club 11 years later. Zinedine Zidane decided to call up the youngster to the Los Blancos squad as a backup for Dani Carvajal, and he quickly impressed all with his defensive skills when needed. The 20-year-old is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund, where he already has 3 assists.


Hakim Ziyech, a more prominent Moroccan player, has graced the Eredivisie with his presence. The Dutch-Moroccan player rose through Heerenveen's youth academy before going on to be a vital player in the first team. Just 25 years old, Ziyech is already one of Ajax's star players, scoring 22 goals in just over 70 club appearances.


Another Moroccan rising through Ajax's first team set-up is Noussair Mazraoui. Born in Liederdrop, Mazraoui made over 50 appearances for Jong Ajax (Ajax's youth team) before breaking into the professional squad. This season, Mazraoui has become the club's starting right-back and has even gone on to score a goal against Benfica in the Champions League.


Although not very young in terms of a footballing career, the center-back duo of Romain Saïss and Medhi Benatia have been tearing it up in Europe. Saïss roamed around France, representing Le Havre and Angers SCO before becoming an integral part of Wolverhampton Wanderer's EFL Championship win and promotion to the Premier League.


Benatia, on the other hand, racked up just about 80 appearances for Udinese before spells at Roma, Bayern Munich, and Juventus established him as one of the world's best defenders.


Head coach Hervé Renard certainly has a lot of potential and experienced players at his disposal, and the Moroccan team should be strong contenders for next year's Africa Cup of Nation tournament in Cameroon.



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