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Latest News of The Atlas Lions

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 17 2019 03:08PM

By Africanfootball.com


Morocco national team coach Herve Renard says the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be a key tournament for the future of football on the continent.


This year’s edition of the AFCON is the first to move into the middle of the year – and therefore avoid the issue of African players in major leagues leaving their clubs for an international tournament in the middle of a season – as well as introducing an expanded format of 24 teams (up from the previous number of 16 qualifiers).


“I think both decisions are good for football in Africa. To play in June is much better, even if we could have problems with weather in some parts of Africa,” Renard is quoted by The Scotsman.


“But in terms of relationships with clubs in Europe or anywhere around the world, it is very important because things got complicated previously.”


Renard is looking to become the first man to lead three different nations to AFCON glory, having taken Zambia and the Ivory Coast to the title in 2012 and 2015 respectively.


He has also made his mark in Morocco by guiding them back to the World Cup last year – their first appearance at the global tournament in two decades.


“This will be my seventh tournament,” added the Frenchman. “In terms of the image of Africa, this continent needs to improve because all around the world these days they can watch the tournament.


“This is a key tournament for our football – and I say our football because I consider I am part of Africa too.


“I have been on this continent for so many years now and sometimes I don’t like the image we give to everybody so if we want more positive comments about us to come from other parts of the world then we need to improve.”

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 15 2019 03:53PM

In just a few days the CAN will begin, nine members of Morocco’s national squad will participate in the continental cup for the first time.


By Morocco World News -


Rabat – Nine of the 23 players selected by Atlas Lions coach, Herve Renard, for the CAN 2019 will be competing in the African Cup for the first time.


The squad, including the nine novices, will take part in the 32nd CAN tournament, scheduled from June 21 to July 19 In Egypt.


The players new to CAN are : Hakim Ziyech, Oussama Idrissi, Abdelkarim Baadi, Mehdi Bourbiaa, Yunis Abdelhamid, Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti, Soufiane Boufal, Achraf Hakimi.


The national team, marked by controversy since the exit of Abderazzak Hamdallah from the team’s training camp on Thursday, lost 1-0 to Gambia. The friendly match on June 12 was part of the team’s training for CAN.


Speaking from Marrakech Stadium on Wednesday, June 13, the coach made a statement. “I have faith in my players and I am sure they will be playing a nice African Nations Cup in Egypt.”


“Friendly matches can be a very important deadline for this group, as the objective is to do better than the 2017 CAN, that is, to reach at least the semifinals,” he added.


He finished by saying “Friendly matches are not the main thing for me, letting me know that the group, which was surprised by Gambia today, must know how to get through some difficult challenges.”


Very ambitious during the last World Cup, the Atlas Lions are keen to go far in this African Cup of Nations.


In order to move towards winning the title, the team must first defeat Namibia, Ivory Coast and South Africa in Group D.


Over the past few months numerous football figures have commented on the strength of Morocco’s team going into the competition. Claude Le Roy, an experienced football manager and former player has predicted that Morocco and Senegal will be among the top teams in CAN 2019.


“The most prominent group is Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia. This group is complicated but Morocco seems to me to be above the competition. Atlas Lions will have everything to gain and I think it’s a pretty comfortable situation,” he said.

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 11 2019 01:25PM

Here's the squad list:


Goalkeepers:


Yassine Bounou (Girona), Mounir El Kajoui (Malaga), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)


Defenders:


Yunis Abdelhamid (Stade Reims), Medhi Benatia (Al Duhail, captain), Manuel da Costa (Al Ittihad), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund), Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax Amsterdam), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers)


Midfielders:


Youssef Ait Bennasser (St Etienne), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Mehdi Bourabia (Sassuolo), Mbark Boussoufa (Al Shabab), Karim El Ahmadi (Al Ittihad), Faycal Fajr (Caen), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam)


Forwards:


Nordin Amrabat (Al Nasr), Sofiane Boufal (Celta Vigo), Khalid Boutaib (Zamalek, Egypt), Youssef En-Nesyri (Leganes), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Al Nasr), Oussama Idrissi (AZ Alkmaar).

By The Atlas Lions, Jun 7 2019 01:48PM

Herve Renard will be out on mission to cement his legacy in African Football with a third AFCON trophy to his resume and this time he wants to do it with Morocco.


The French born coach boasts of a bag full of experience having led Zambia and the Côte d’Ivoiré to glory in 2012 and 2015 respectively.


Morocco have made 17 appearances at the AFCON. Their first and only title came at the tenth edition hosted by Ethiopia in 1976. At this time the tournament was held in group format with only 8 teams participating. The first stage was split in two groups with the top two teams qualifying to the final group of four. In the second phase, Morocco came out top after a 1-1 draw with runners up Guinea. Nigeria and Egypt occupied the third and fourth spot respectively.


The Atlas Lions will be hoping to replicate the victory in 1976 by navigating through a tournament that has seen a shift from 16 teams to 24, the highest in the competition’s history.


It’s been a while since Morocco tasted African glory. Only thing that is as near as good was a brace of Chan trophies in 2014 and 2018.


Coach Renard will heavily count on Dutch-based duo, Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mezraoui both with Ajax, Borussia Dortmund left back Achraf Hakim and the experience Al-Duhail defender Medhi Benatia.


Morocco is drawn alongside Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia in Group D.



Full Squad


Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Malaga, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Girona, Spain), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Athletic Club), Abdelali Mhamdi (RS Berkane, Morocco)


Defenders: Marouane Da Costa (Ittihad Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Ghanem Saiss (Wolverhampton, England), Mehdi Benatia (Al-Duhail Sports, Qatar), Achraf Hakimi (Dortmund, Germany), Abdelhamid Yunis (Stade de Reims, France), Noussair Mazroaui (Ajax, Netherlands), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbache, Turkey.


Midfielders: Karim El Ahmadi Arroussi (Al Ittihad, Saudi Arabia), Youssef Aït Bennasser (St Etienne, France), M’barek Boussoufa (Al-Shabab, Saudi Arabia), Younès Belhanda (Galatasaray, Turkey), Fayçal Fajr (Caen, France), Abdelkrim Baadi (Hassania of Agadir, Morocco, Mehdi Bourabia (Sassuolo, Italy), Amine Harit (Schalke 04, Germany)


Forwards: Nordin Amrabat (Al-Nasr, Saudi Arabia), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Ayoub El Kaâbi (Hebei China Fortune FC, China), Khalid Boutaïb (Zamalek, Egypt), Youssef En-Nesyri (Leganes , Spain), Soufiane Boufal (Celta Vigo, Spain), Osama Idrissi (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Abderazzak Hamddalh (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia).


http://www.soka25east.com/afcon-2019-contenders-morocco-out-to-break-a-43-year-old-duck/

By The Atlas Lions, May 14 2019 06:20PM

(CAFonline.com) Frenchman Herve Renard still ranks as they first coach in African history to win the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with two different teams. Renard produced one of the most scintillating results ever leading Zambia to the 2012 crown with a penalty shoot-out victory over Cote d’Ivoire.



Three years later, he turned the Ivorians tears from 2012 into chants of jubilation when he led them to the title with another post-match penalties conquest, this time over Ghana’s Black Stars.



He now looks straight at another unprecedented piece of history with Morocco’s Atlas Lions as he hopes to win a third continental crown with a side that has not won the title since 1976. Renard and his charges reached the quarter final of the 2017 showpiece losing 1-0 to Egypt.



Can Renard, and the Atlas Lions dream of quenching a 43-year old thirst?


“I don’t know…. everything is possible in football but first we have to look at our opening game which is the most important, then step by step. We have a tough group and it will be very important to come to Egypt with an ambition of respect all our opponents,” the Frenchman stated.


Morocco are in Group C with Renard’s former employers Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia.


“We are in a very tough group and we need to come in here very concentrated. We have to be ready from the first game to get a good result which will give us some confidence going forward,” he added.


The 50-year old will be counting on the experience from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where despite bowing out in the group stages, the Atlas Lions gave encouraging performances. They finished bottom of the group after replicate 1-0 losses to Iran and Portugal and drew 2-2 with Spain who equalized in the final minute of added time.


“This experience will be very important because we played very good football. Though we didn’t get the result we wanted, all Moroccans were proud of their team. Now, we have to make them very happy again in Egypt,” stated the coach.


“We are coming in with an ambition and if you come with an ambition you have to beat everyone. We have a very good team and we need to believe in ourselves.”


Renard believes going through to the final will be tougher this time especially with the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams.


“The expansion makes it more difficult because there is one more round to play and the teams are more ambitious. But we are hoping to go very far in this tournament,” Renard noted.



Morocco topped their qualification group ahead of Cameroon with both sides picking 11 points with identical three wins, two draws and a loss from group B. The only loss they suffered was against each other, Cameroon winning the first leg (1-0) and Morocco winning the return tie (2-0).



Based in Cairo, Morocco will kick off their campaign against Namibia on 23 June at the Al Salam Stadium before playing Cote d’Ivoire five days later on South Africa on July 1 all at the same venue.

By The Atlas Lions, Apr 23 2019 12:40PM

The Ajax star had once vowed never to play in the Morocco stripes under the French tactician

Herve Renard has shouldered ‘99%’ of the blame for Hakim Ziyech's decision to desert Morocco in the past.


Both parties got off to an underwhelming start, with the Ajax star frustrated at the treatment he received from the Frenchman.


Renard's first test as Morocco's coach was a 2017 African Cup of Nations doubleheader against Cape Verde in March 2016.


Ziyech, who had been impressive in the campaign, was dropped for the first leg before being handed a substitute role in the reverse fixture in Marrakech.


He was then left out of the preliminary squad for the finals in Gabon.


The decision prompted the Ajax star to declare his intention never to return to the national team fold as long as the Afcon-winning manager remained in charge. He stuck to the decision until the problem was resolved later.


Now, Renard has finally accepted that he was at fault.


"I was appointed coach. I start training on Monday. We play on Saturday in Cape Verde on a synthetic field with a lot of wind; a typical African game with the characteristics that I know. I put Hakim in the stands, we start on a difficult base, we play the return to Morocco three days later, he returns for 25 minutes, but he was certainly not satisfied with the stage in its entirety,” Renard said on Le Vestiaire, a RMC Sport show.


“I made a mistake here. Do not talk to him, everyone is on his side, the situation is tense, he's coming back, the third time he's a little hurt... until I do not pick him any more.”


Renard maintained that Ziyech's character ‘remained impeccable’ in spite of all he faced.


"There is nothing about it. He has never shown bad character, he never reacted badly, on the contrary, he remained impeccable, even if, of course, he was not satisfied, and after a year, my president told me, 'We need to go see him, you see the season he's doing.'


"I said 'yes, on his qualities, there is nothing to say, that's what we need,” he continued.


"We went to Amsterdam and after three minutes of conversation, everything was settled, he wanted to come back, he is very attached to the national team, I needed him and I recognized my mistakes."


Ziyech has not only become a star performer in Renard's squad, he is now one of the best players in Europe.


His showings this season has helped Ajax reach the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League, dumping out Real Madrid and Juventus in the process. And they have their eyes set on the Eredivisie title.


He starred in Morocco’s underwhelming outing at the 2018 Fifa World Cup and is set to play a crucial role at his first Afcon finals in June.


The Atlas Lions have been placed in Group D alongside Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia.


https://www.goal.com/en-us/news/morocco-coach-herve-renard-opens-up-on-hakim-ziyech-mistake/f4a9cwjguym71imowesneexrb

By The Atlas Lions, Feb 28 2019 03:33PM

(CAFOnline.com) As the Total African Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 approaches, the Moroccan coach speaks to cafonline.com to discuss the state of his team's fitness. The Atlas Lions, already qualified, will face Malawi in the last day of qualifying before a gala match against Argentina in Tangier.


February always has a special flavour for you as it corresponds to the titles won in 2012 with Zambia and Ivory Coast in 2015. What do you remember about these two titles?


Hervé Renard: "These are memories engraved forever in my heart! It's indescribable. You have to live it. I never thought I'd be working on the African continent and it's thanks to Claude Leroy. There's also a small luck factor that I benefited from. ”


What is your state of mind after this third CAF Coach of the Year award?


Hervé Renard: "It's an honour because it's the third time I've won it since 2008, when I became head coach. In ten years, it's exceptional! It is also the recognition of collective work because I work with high quality assistants and federations that have given me the means to work. In Morocco, I have a lot of people working for me. You have to know how to delegate, and you also have to constantly question yourself. What motivates a coach is to go out and get titles."


You recently attended the Asian Cup of Nations won by Qatar. What are your impressions?


Hervé Renard: "I was pleasantly surprised by their team even though there are naturalized players. There is mainly a work done by Spaniards in recent years. Qatar has been preparing for its World Cup in 2022 for a long time and this trophy won against Japan is significant."


Do you still think that Egypt and Senegal are the favourites for this 2019 CAN?

Hervé Renard: "By showing humility, it's very difficult to win a CAN and I know what I'm talking about. Statistically, football lovers know that Egypt is a great country. Especially when you can count on Mohamed Sala. And even more so at home with strong popular support. It will be very difficult for all their opponents. Which team today has individual qualities like Sadio Mané or Koulibaly for Senegal ? Let us not forget also the Ivory Coast of Nicolas Pépé and Serge Aurier, the defending champions of Cameroon or Nigeria. I'd rather not be a braggart for Morocco but make the opponents fall on the field."


Has the location of the preparation course for the CAN 2019 been decided?


Hervé Renard: "The Royal Moroccan Federation is building a magnificent national technical centre. It's exceptional in quality! Will it be finished on time by June? I hope so and for the moment we are planning our preparation in Rabat. Otherwise, we'll find a plan B, but it's not current."


Morocco, already qualified, face Malawi in the final day of the Total AFCON 2019 qualifiers. What do you expect from this game?


Hervé Renard: "This will allow us to see some players who have not worn the national team jersey much. Not counting Argentina, it is the last official meeting before the preparation of the AFCON in June. It is also important to collect points for the FIFA ranking. It's always difficult to play in Malawi."


The Moroccan press reports that elements such as Noussair Mazraoui, Achraf Hakimi, Youssef En-Nesyri and Hamza Mendyl, who would be made available to the U23 team for the decisive confrontation against the DRC, are missing. Can you confirm that?


Hervé Renard: "We're going to make one last point with the U23 coach and the DTN. But I will not leave them all at disposal, contrary to what may have been said prematurely. I make sporting decisions and if I don't talk, it's not official."



Could Yunis Abdelhamid, author of a great season with Reims, be called?


Hervé Renard: "I recently had him on the phone and congratulated him on the excellent season he is having. He is a boy who succeeds in winning despite the transition from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1. Not only is he a regular player, but he has also become a key member of this Reims team. Congratulations to him, he will be a valuable contribution to Morocco."


Another good point for Moroccan football: Osama Idrissi will play for the Atlas Lions


Hervé Renard: "My greatest satisfaction is to have met a very professional player during our last internship. I was impressed by his rigour and his sense of collective spirit. He has many qualities and should play in an even bigger club than at present. That's very good news! It's up to him to impose himself now."


What do you think of El Kayoubi's expatriation to China?


Hervé Renard: "There are more and more very good players in China. Already when I was there in 2002, as an assistant, there was already a certain level. It's not easy to perform there with the rule of 3 foreign players per team. Look at how Gervinho is having a wonderful season today in Parma. He didn't fall asleep in China, you have to be competitive and Kayoubi will improve. This experience will serve him in his evolution. Kayoubi's problem today is rather the competition with the remarkable season of the young Youssef En-Nesyri, the driving force behind the strikers in Morocco."



What do you expect from the gala match against Argentina in Tangier?



Hervé Renard: "We're going to have to do the same things as we did against Portugal and Spain at the 2018 World Cup. If we're at our level, we can compete. While knowing that they have an alien named Lionel Messi who makes everything change. It's an exceptional match in a career and for Morocco. I'm sure the players will all be motivated."

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