Making their first appearance since 1998, Morocco didn't lose a game during qualification.
Morocco World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
Morocco have long been underachievers on the African footballing stage, given the depth of their squad and the talent they have at their disposal, but in recent years they have ramped up their ambition and they now return to the 2018 World Cup stage. They last played in the finals in France in 1998, but are back after hiring Herve Renard to guide their fortunes. A creative midfield is complimented by a strong defence but, although they won one of their qualifying games 6-0, striking is still a problem.
Key Moments in Qualifying
Held to a goalless draw at home in Marrakech by group favourites Ivory Coast, Morocco have just two points from their opening two Group C games and are already trailing in the standings.
Renard travels to meet Hakim Ziyech in Amsterdam and persuades the Ajax player to rejoin the fold after the midfielder said he would no longer play for Morocco following the coach’s decision to leave him out of the squad for the African Nations Cup.
Six goals, including two from Ziyech on his return, against Mali give Morocco an injection of self-belief.
A 0-0 draw with Mali takes them to five points. But Ivory Coast, who could have gone five points clear, lose at home to a weak Gabon side, who are without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Needing only a draw away to Ivory Coast, two goals in as many minutes midway through the first half seal victory.
Morocco World Cup Group
Morocco World Cup Friendlies
On the 23rd of March Morocco will play against Serbia, and then Uzbekistan four days later.
- 23rd March – Serbia
- 27th March – Uzbekistan
Morocco World Cup Fixtures
Morocco will play against Iran first in the opening game of Group B on the 15th of June. Portugal and then Spain will follow on the 20th and 25th of June.
- 15th June – Iran
- 20th June – Portugal
- 25th June – Spain
Herve Renard, age 49 (30.09.68)
After a limited playing career, he got his break as Claude le Roy’s assistant with Ghana in 2008 and went on to win African Nations Cup titles with Zambia (2012) and Ivory Coast (2015).
Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia enjoys the highest profile of the Moroccan exports, while the midfield duo of Mbark Boussoufa and Younes Belhanda have a star quality that energises the team.
Dutch-born Karim El Ahmadi is the anchor of the side. Sofiane Boufal has established himself as the top attacker and Hakim Ziyech on theright is a creative force.
Injury saw defender Manuel Da Costa miss much of the qualifying and he could lose his place in the squad. Striker Youssef El Arabi also looks to have been cast aside.
Feyenoord’s Sofyan Amrabat has chosen to play for Morocco over Holland, just as Ziyech did two years earlier.
Morocco World Cup Squad
Morocco are yet to announce their 2018 World Cup squad.
Morocco World Cup Injuries
We will update you with injuries regularly.
The Unanswered Questions
Will Morocco manage to retain their new-found unity?
There are many disparate elements to a squad that has a French-born contingent, a Dutch-born colony and a few born in Morocco itself. It has not always been harmonious but a return to the World Cup has been built on team spirit.
Is Karim El Ahmadi past his sell by date at international level?
The former Aston Villa midfielder, who is now 32, played a major role in the World Cup qualifying campaign and was also integral to Feyenoord winning the Dutch title last season. However, his legs look to be growing a little weary and he could struggle this summer.
Could Herve Renard’s side be a little light in attack?
At the African Nations Cup in January, the gangly Aziz Bouhaddouz – who plays for St Pauli in the German second division – was the team’s target man. He has since lost his starting place – and ever since then Morocco have little physical presence in attack.
Will Renard make more changes to keep the regulars on their toes?
Probably! He is a man who likes to have an edgy camp, keeping players on their toes, and he will most likely spring a surprise with some new selections when the team play their next friendlies in March.
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