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2018 World Cup Guide: Group B: Morocco

Making their first look since 1998, Morocco did not lose a sport throughout qualification.

2018 World Cup Information: Group B: MOROCCO 

Morocco have lengthy been underachievers on the African footballing stage, given the depth of their squad and the expertise they’ve at their disposal, however lately they’ve ramped up their ambition and so they now return to the World Cup stage. They final performed within the finals in France in 1998, however are again after hiring Herve Renard to information their fortunes. A artistic midfield is complimented by a robust defence however, though they gained one in every of their qualifying video games 6-Zero, putting continues to be an issue.

Key Moments in Qualifying 

Nov 2016
Held to a goalless draw at residence in Marrakech by group favourites Ivory Coast, Morocco have simply two factors from their opening two Group C video games and are already trailing within the standings.
Jun 2017
Renard travels to satisfy Hakim Ziyech in Amsterdam and persuades the Ajax participant to rejoin the fold after the midfielder mentioned he would now not play for Morocco following the coach’s choice to go away him out of the squad for the African Nations Cup.
Sep 2017
Six targets, together with two from Ziyech on his return, in opposition to Mali give Morocco an injection of self-belief.
Sep 2017
A Zero-Zero draw with Mali takes them to 5 factors. However Ivory Coast, who might have gone 5 factors clear, lose at residence to a weak Gabon facet, who’re with out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Nov 2017
Needing solely a draw away to Ivory Coast, two targets in as many minutes halfway by way of the primary half seal victory.

The Coach 

Herve Renard, age 49 (30.09.68)
After a restricted enjoying profession, he received 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).

Revival: Behind Herve Renard, Morocco has gone by way of a revival (Getty Photographs)

The Gamers 
Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia enjoys the very best profile of the Moroccan exports, whereas the midfield duo of Mbark Boussoufa and Younes Belhanda have a star high quality that energises the crew.
Dutch-born Karim El Ahmadi is the anchor of the facet. Sofiane Boufal has established himself as the highest attacker and Hakim Ziyech on theright is a artistic drive.
Damage noticed defender Manuel Da Costa miss a lot of the qualifying and he might lose his place within the squad. Striker Youssef El Arabi additionally appears to have been forged apart.
Feyenoord’s Sofyan Amrabat has chosen to play for Morocco over Holland, simply as Ziyech did two years earlier.

Excessive Profile: Mehdi Benatia has the very best profile of the Moroccan gamers. He’ll anchor their defence (Getty Photographs)

The Unanswered Questions

Will Morocco handle to retain their new-found unity?
There are lots of disparate components to a squad that has a French-born contingent, a Dutch-born colony and some born in Morocco itself. It has not at all times been harmonious however a return to the World Cup has been constructed on crew spirit.

Is Karim El Ahmadi previous his promote by date at worldwide degree?
The previous Aston Villa midfielder, who’s now 32, performed a significant position within the World Cup qualifying marketing campaign and was additionally integral to Feyenoord successful the Dutch title final season. Nevertheless, his legs look to be rising somewhat weary and he might battle this summer time.

Weary: At 32, is Karim El Ahmadi previous his prime? (Getty Photographs)

May Herve Renard’s facet be somewhat mild in assault?
On the African Nations Cup in January, the gangly Aziz Bouhaddouz – who performs for St Pauli within the German second division – was the crew’s goal man. He has since misplaced his beginning place – and ever since then Morocco have little bodily presence in assault.

Will Renard make extra adjustments to maintain the regulars on their toes?
Most likely! He’s a person who likes to have an edgy camp, conserving gamers on their toes, and he’ll most definitely spring a shock with some new alternatives when the crew play their subsequent friendlies in March.

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