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Morocco Atlas Lions in Fifth World Cup campaign in Qatar

by kenya-tribune
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This is Morocco  Atlas Lions’ fifth World Cup campaign and the first time that they have managed to make it to consecutive editions. They were unbeaten in their CAF qualifying rounds and looked the real deal under former manager Vahid Halilhodzic.

The Bosnian was  dismissed  three months ago, and the reins passed on to Walid Regragui. While he has enjoyed success at the club level with Wydad Casablanca, he will find it a challenge to navigate the difficulties of Group F.

 

Morocco have qualified for the knockouts of the World Cup just once. They managed the feat in 1986 following a historic 3-1 win over Portugal and draws against Poland and France. Unfortunately for them, the dream was cut short when West Germany beat them in the Round of 16.

While Morocco certainly have a squad that can compete, it remains to be seen how Regragui handles his resources and deploys them on the field. He does have sensational talents at his disposal such as Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui.

The midfield is lacking in top-tier talent, but the likes of Sofyan Amrabat and Abdelhamid Sabiri have cut their teeth in Serie A and can be dogged contenders. Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri will pack a punch in the attack as Morocco aims to spring a surprise or two.

The likes of Nayef Aguerd and Walid Cheddira have also risen to prominence in recent times and will be keen to enhance their reputations further. Morocco’s side is largely an average one smattered with world-class talents. The system could be tinkered with to keep things right and allow the star players to grab the bull by the horns.

The games against Belgium and Croatia should prove tough tests for a side that has won just two of their 16 games in the competition’s history. Even securing a solitary point against either side could make their Matchday Three fixture against Canada a six-pointer.

Key Players: Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri

The Moroccan right side can be called the team’s strength, and several of their top stars will be arrayed on that side of the field. Hakimi has been a key cog in PSG’s dominance and will be a dynamic presence on the right flank. His ability to get forward on the overlap and provide pinpoint crosses could carve out openings for the Moroccan strikers.

Ziyech is an effective outlet for Morocco (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Ziyech has endured a rather troublesome stint with Chelsea and will be keen to remind the Blues of what they are missing out on. A clever player with guile to match, the Moroccan playmaker can not just carve open opposition defences, but also have a pop or two at goal.

The presence of the dynamic duo on the right will encourage Youssef En-Nesyri, who is developing into an excellent goalscorer. He has struggled for Sevilla this season but has the physicality and directness to give defenders problems. As long as he channels his performance against Spain from Russia in 2018, Morocco have a chance of causing an upset or two.



Ex- CAF Media Expert.
An expert on African football with over 15 years experience ,always with an ear to the ground with indepth knowledge of the game.

I have worked for top publications including 7 years at www.supersport.com until i founded www.soka25east.com to quench the thirst of football lovers across the continent.

I have trained young upcoming journalists who are now a voice in African football.I have covered World Cup,AFCON,CHAN,Champions League,Confederations Cup,Cecafa,Cosafa,Wafu and many other football tournaments across the World.

Founder Football Africa Arena(FAA),Founder www.afrisportdigital.com


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