Morocco win Against Tunisia

Morocco edged Tunisia 1- in an international friendly played at the Olympic Stadium in Rades on Tuesday evening.

The Atlas Lions backed up their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying win above Cameroon very last Friday with a victory in this regional derby, while the Carthage Eagles suffered a next straight decline to a fellow North Africa following their 3-2 defeat in Egypt.

Morocco opened the scoring late in the initially fifty percent, with Mehdi Benatia’s reduced shot from a small free kick saved by goalie Farouk Ben Mustapha, but Youssef En Nesyri was on hand to change home to rebound in the 41st minute.

Tunisia had earlier dominated possession and tried out to push higher any time they did not have the ball, but they have been unable to generate any clear likelihood to test out Atlas Lions goalie Monir El Kajoui.

Sofiane Boufal almost additional to Morocco’s gain just ahead of the hour mark, slipping earlier a few of troubles ahead of sending a shot narrowly vast of the focus on.

In common the next fifty percent followed the identical sample as the initially, with the Carthage Eagles dictating the rate, but the Atlas Lions looked a lot more threatening in attack.

The hosts looked to increase their hopes with numerous introductions from the subs bench, but ongoing to deficiency a cutting edge in the final 3rd.

Late in the game Tunisia almost claimed an equaliser but substitute Mohamed Drager, when introduced with a clear opportunity in front of goal, was unable to hit the target leaving Morocco to claim victory.

Both groups will return to motion next March when they wrap up their 2019 AFCON qualification campaigns: Morocco will be away to Malawi, while Tunisia host eSwatini.

Morocco (1) 1 (En Nesyri 41’)

Tunisia: Ben Mustapha, Nagguez (Mathlouthi ninety+1’), Skhiri (Bedoui 73’), Sassi (Chaouat 65’), Haddadi, Ben Amor (Karoui ninety+1’), Meriah, Khaoui (Srarfi 57’), Ben Yousseff, Khazri, Sliti (Drager 79’)

Morocco: El Kajoui, Dirar (Hakimi 69’), Benatia (Da Costa 46’), Amrabat (Mazraoui 86’), Fajr, Ait Bennasser, El Hajjam, Hafidi (Azaro 46’), Boufal (El Ahmadi 89’), Saiss, En Nesyre

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Group B: European heavyweights to do battle


After beating Italy to top spot in Europe’s Group G on the road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Spain now face another stern test after being pitted against European heavyweights Portugal, as well as Africa’s Morocco and Asia’s IR Iran.


Key Game
Portugal v Spain (15 June 2018, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi)

A mouth-watering tie in Sochi lies in store. You could hear the gasps at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace when these two European heavyweights – and neighbours – were drawn alongside each other in Group B. This is a game not to be missed. 

What you need to know
Russia presents familiar territory for Portugal. As UEFA EURO 2016 winners, Portugal secured their berth to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, where Fernando Santos’s side defeated Mexico in the play-off for third place.

IR Iran will be looking to Sardar Azmoun for goals. The 22-year-old striker, who plys his trade in Russia with Rubin Kazan, notched 11 goals in qualifying, the same number as Tim Cahill (Australia), Christian Eriksen (Denmark) and Romelu Lukaku (Belgium).

Morocco topped a tightly-contested African zone Group C to secure qualification to Russia 2018, pipping Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon and Mali.

The stat
3 – Iran were the third team to book their place at the 2018 World Cup after hosts Russia and 2014 hosts Brazil.  


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German coach Joachim Loew wary of Morocco – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


German coach Joachim Loew wary of Morocco

Morocco celebrate after scoring

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Nov 24, 2017. 11:30

Germany coach Joachim Loew says Morocco will be a difficult opponent at the 2018 FIFA World Cup after doing well in the qualifiers.

The manager singled out Herve Renard’s men as a threat from the African continent.


Die Mannschaft lifted the crown in Brazil two years ago after beating Argentina in the final and Loew was speaking about their chances of retaining the Jules Rimet trophy.

”We know some very good teams from all over the World are coming, like in Africa Morocco did well in the qualifying series and they will be the team most people would be expecting to pull surprises from Africa,” said Loew.

Although Nigeria were the first African nation to qualify for the World Cup the Atlas Lions, just like the Super Eagles, stayed undefeated throughout the qualifiers and didn’t concede a single goal.


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Herve Renard hopes Morocco draw France at 2018 World Cup – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Herve Renard hopes Morocco draw France at 2018 World Cup

Herve Renard, coach of Morocco and players celebrates a victory during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 24 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Monday Nov 13, 2017. 12:30

Morocco coach Herve Renard has revealed that he would love to face France at the 2018 World Cup.

Renard’s side secured a place at Russia 2018 with an impressive 2-0 victory in Ivory Coast on Saturday night.

Morocco will be returning to the World Cup for the first time since 1998 and Renard says facing the country of his birth would be special.

“We do not want to avoid anyone!” Renard said in the wake of Morocco’s qualification.

“Personally, I would like to face France. It would be a great honor for me to be in the same pool as the French team.”

The Atlas Lions coach also noted that he had received a congratulatory phone call from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

“I thank His Majesty for calling me. It’s a huge honour,” said the Frenchman. “He wanted to talk to us to pay tribute to everyone.

Tonight we are proud of the Moroccan shirt, proud that the Moroccan flag returns to the World Cup. This is the fifth qualification so Morocco is not a small [football] country.”


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2018 World Cup qualifier: Ivory Coast 0-2 Morocco – As it happened – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Graeme Jackson

Saturday Nov 11, 2017. 21:21

Welcome to as-it-happened coverage of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Morocco from the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan.

All times CAT

90+4′ – Full time – Done and dusted! Morocco win 2-0 and top Group C to secure safe passage to Russia 2018! The Atlas Lions will return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998, while Ivory Coast miss out on a fourth successive showing at the global showpiece!

90+1′ – Substitution – Faycal Fajr replaces Belhanda in Morocco’s last change.

90′ – There will be three minutes of added time.

89′ – A few off-the-ball scraps sparking now, Ivory Coast’s frustration is getting the better of them.

87′ – Doumbia gets up to meet Aurier’s ball into the box, but his header is comfortably saved by the Morocco goalkeeper.

85′ – More great defence from Dirar against Zaha – the Moroccan has played superbly to keep the Elephants attacker quiet in this match.

82′ – Substitution – Sofyan Amrabat replaces the excellent Ziyach in Morocco’s second change.

81′ – Little energy or urgency from the Elephants, they don’t seem to believe a comeback is possible.

79′ – Just over 10 minutes left, Morocco can just about taste the World Cup…

76′ – Substitution – Gervinho makes way for Salomon Kalou in the home side’s last change.

75′ – Substitution – Morocco’s first change sees Boutaib replaced by youngster Achraf Bencharki.

71′ – El Kajoui makes an easy catch from a right-wing cross. Ivory Coast really haven’t worked the Morocco goalkeeper through this match.

69′ – Nope, Kessie can’t make anything of a simple ball to the near post and it’s a goal kick to Morocco.

68′ – Great perseverance from Zaha to win a corner kick, can they make something of it?

66′ – Great work from Gradel to chase down Amrabat in a Morocco counter attack and win a free kick. The Elephants have been poor tonight, but Gradel at least can hold his head high for his efforts.

64′ – Morocco on a speedy counter, but Amrabat and Boutaib cannot take advantage! Play comes back the other end and Aurier has a great chance… blazed over the bar!

62′ – Substitution – The Elephants’ second change sees Maxwell Cornet replace Fofana.

61′ – Past the hour mark, Ivory Coast must come up with three goals in the last 30 minutes to qualify for a fourth successive World Cup.

58′ – Boutaib flagged offside… the forward is working tirelessly up front for Morocco, feeding on scraps for the most part.

55′ – Good defence from Dirar to shepherd Gervinho out of play. The Atlas Lions are happy to sit deep, soak up whatever their opponents can throw at them and look to hit on the break.

53′ – Zaha livid after Amrabat wins a free kick off him in the Moroccans’ half of the field. It’s just not happening for the hosts.

50′ – Ivory Coast look really disjointed… putting together the most basic passing moves seems beyond them at the moment.

47′ – Gbohouo drops a cross, Boussoufa gets a shot away on goal, but Aurier does just enough to clear off his line! That would have been the killer blow to the Elephants!

46′ – Substitution – Back underway in the second half, Ivory Coast have made a change by sending on Ghislain Konan in place of Deli.

45+2′ – Half time – Morocco two goals up at the break and looking very much on course to qualify. Ivory Coast will need something pretty special to turn this one around…

45′ – There will be one minute of added time.

43′ – Great work from Benatia to turn away from Zaha in an awkward defensive situation. The North Africans are full of confidence.

40′ – Five minutes to the interval. Ivory Coast coach Marc Wilmots will need to come up with one heck of a half-time pep talk to inspire a comeback from his team.

37′ – Solid defence from Morocco: apart from that chance Gervinho had about 20 minutes ago they’ve been untroubled.

35′ – The atmosphere has gone flat inside the stadium, with the home crowd stunned by this showing from the Atlas Lions.

32′ – Morocco heading for a fifth World Cup appearance overall and a first since 1998!

30′ – GOAL! Ivory Coast 0-2 Morocco – The Atlas Lions go two goals up! Benatia gets ahead of Gbami to half-volley home at close range from a corner kick!

29′ – Aurier given a talking-to by the referee for a foul in an aerial challenge with Boutaib. Frustration already threatening to boil over for the home side.

26′ – This in now a mountain to climb for the Elephants, who must score at least two goals against a Morocco defence which has kept five clean sheets in the group!

25′ – GOAL! Ivory Coast 0-1 Morocco – Dirar gives Morocco the lead against the run of play! The midfielder plays an in-swinging cross from the right which is missed in the middle and beats Gbohouo at the far post!

23′ – Gradel shoots direct for goal from the free kick, but cannot lift his effort over the defensive wall.

22′ – Yellow card – Saiss booked for a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box on Zaha. Very close to being a penalty…

21′ – Gradel whips in a great cross from the left, but Morocco goalkeeper El Kajoui collects safely under pressure from Zaha and Doumbia.

19′ – Gradel tumbles in the box under a challenge between two Moroccans, but the referee waves away appeals for a spot kick.

17′ – Gervinho with a great chance as he latches onto a ball over the top, but his attempted finish is blazed over the crossbar!

15′ – Ziyech shoots direct from the free kick… the ball hits the wall, balloons up and out for a corner kick.

14′ – Morocco win a free kick just outside the Ivorian penalty area for a clumsy trip on Boussoufa.

11′ – Belhanda crosses from the set piece, but his delivery is too deep.

10′ – Yellow card – Kessie given a harsh caution for a foul on Morocco’s right flank. The visitors have a free kick in a good attacking position…

9′ – A couple of corners and sustained pressure from the Elephants, but it ends with Fofana firing a shot over the target!

6′ – Hakimi with half a chance as he arrives late in the box, but he slices his shot high and wide.

4′ – Ziyech tumbles near the box, but there’s no real hope of a penalty for the North Africans.

2′ – A scrappy start to the game with a couple of early fouls from Morocco inside the hosts’ half.

1′ – Kick-off – We are underway in Abidjan! Ivory Coast wear all-orange, while Morocco are in a change strip of white with red trim.

19h25 – The players come out of the tunnel to line-up for the national anthems.

19h15 – The other Group C match between Gabon and Mali ended in a goalless stalemate in Franceville earlier today. This clash in Abidjan will be refereed by Gambian official  Bakaray Gassama.

19h00 – This is the decisive clash in Group C of Africa’s qualifiers, with one of these two teams set to join Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal (and in all likelihood Tunisia) as African representatives at the finals in Russia next year. The equation is very simple: Ivory Coast must win to qualify, while any other result will see Morocco book a spot at the World Cup.

Here are the starting XIs ahead of the match:

Ivory Coast: Sylvain Gbohouo, Serge Aurier, Simon Deli, Wilfried Kanon, Seko Fofana, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Franck Kessie, Wilfried Zaha, Max Gradel, Gervinho, Seydou Doumbia

Morocco: Mounir El Kajoui, Medhi Benatia, Hakim Ziyach, Romain Saiss, Mbark Boussoufa, Noureddine Amrabat, Karim El Ahmadi, Khalid Boutaib, Achraf Hakimi, Younes Belhanda, Nabil Dirar


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Ivory Coast coach Marc Wilmots calls for unity ahead of Morocco clash – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Oct 31, 2017. 16:30

Ivory Coast coach Marc Wilmots has called for unity ahead of his team’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Morocco next month.

The Elephants will host the Atlas Lions for their decisive Group C clash at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan on November 11.

Ivory Coast must win the match to top the group and secure qualification for a fourth successive World Cup.

Morocco, meanwhile, need only avoid defeat and they will qualify for their first global tournament since 1998.

Wilmots recently took to his official Twitter page to call for unity from Ivory Coast supporters ahead of the match.

The Belgian has come under harsh criticism for the Elephants’ form since he took over in March.

“Exactly 2 weeks before the confrontation with Morocco. All united for qualification,” Wilmots posted on his account this past weekend.


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Morocco to receive 8,000 tickets for Ivory Coast World Cup showdown – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Graeme Jackson

Monday Oct 30, 2017. 18:30

Morocco are set to receive 8,000 tickets for their 2018 World Cup qualifier away to Ivory Coast on November 11.

The Ivorian federation has released the tickets for the match at the Stade Felix Houphouet Boigny to their Moroccan counterparts, FRMF.

Travelling Atlas Lions fans will be distributed with the tickets ahead of their trip to Abidjan next month.

The FRMF also has a plan in place alongside the government and Royal Air Morocco to provide transportation to and from Abidjan for the North Africans fans.

The clash will be decisive in Group C: Ivory Coast need to win the match to secure a fourth successive World Cup qualification, while Morocco must avoid defeat to make their return to the tournament for the first time since 1998.

Coaches Marc Wilomts and Herve Renard are set to release their respective squad lists for the match within the next day or two.


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Kalou compares Morocco coach Renard to Mourinho – 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers


Kalou compares Morocco coach Renard to Mourinho

Salomon Kalou, Hertha Berlin

Austin Ditlhobolo

Friday Oct 27, 2017. 15:00

Ivorian international Salomon Kalou has compared Morocco head coach coach Herve Renard to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Kalou spoke to ESPN ahead of Ivory Coast’s last 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match which will be against Morocco in Abidjan on 11 November 2017.

Group C leaders Morocco are a point above Ivory Coast, who need to win in order to qualify for next year’s finals which will be hosted by Russia.

Hertha Berlin forward Kalou has spoken of the similarities between former Ivory Coast coach Renard and Portuguese tactician Mourinho.

“It will be interesting [meeting Renard],” the 32-year-old foward said.

“He has a mental game going on. A bit like Mourinho.

“He will try to play this kind of game with us because he knows us very well,” he added.

“But I don’t think that will play a part. We have a good relationship with him, but we have to win.”

Kalou was part of the Ivorian squad that won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in Gabon under French tactician Renard’s guidance.

The veteran attacker also worked with Mourinho during his stint with English giants Chelsea between 2006 and 2007.


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Morocco to host 2018 CHAN finals as Egypt qualify


Austin Ditlhobolo

Sunday Oct 15, 2017. 19:00

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have announced that Morocco will replace Kenya as hosts of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The continent’s football governing body, CAF unanimously decided to give Morocco the tournament ahead of Equatorial Guinea.

The awarding of the tournament to Morocco also benefits Egypt, who were awarded Morocco’s place – now freed up as hosts.

This is after Egypt were initially knocked out by their fellow North Africans in qualifying.

The announcement was made on Sunday.

A statement read: “Following the designation of Morocco as host of Total CHAN 2018, CAF Emergency Committee, meeting in Lagos, decided to qualify Egypt for the final tournament. In the playoffs in the Northern zone, Egypt was beaten by Morocco.

“It will be Egypt’s very first participation in this competition, running since 2009, which will be in its 5th edition and gather only players playing in the championships of their countries.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Committee rejected Mali’s protest and confirmed the qualification of Mauritania which will be its participating in Total CHAN for the 2nd time, after 2014 in South Africa.”

The list of 16 countries qualified for Total CHAN, Morocco 2018, scheduled for 12 January to 4 February 2018, is as follows:

North zone (2 qualified + host country): Egypt, Libya, Morocco

Eastern Central Zone (2 qualified): Ethiopia, Uganda

Central Zone (3 qualified): Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea

West Zone A (2 qualified): Guinea, Mauritania

West Zone B (3 qualified): Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Nigeria

Southern Zone (3 qualified): Angola, Namibia, Zambia


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Amrabat opts for Morocco over the Netherlands – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Oct 11, 2017. 11:00

News reports coming from Morocco is that Feyenoord midfielder Sofyan Amrabat has turned down an opportunity to represent the Netherlands national team.

The Moroccan Football Federation president, Faouzi Lakjaa has confirmed that Amrabat has chosen to represent the African nation.

Football Oranje website reports that the KNVB had hoped to persuade the midfielder to choose the Dutch national team.


However, it appears that Amrabat will follow in his brother, Nordin’s footsteps and represent the Atlas Lions.

“Amrabat sat with his parents in the stand at the World Championships qualifying match between Morocco and Gabon on Saturday night. He will play for Morocco’s first team,” said Lakjaa.

The 21-year-old was born in the Netherlands and has represented both nations at youth level, but has two caps for the Moroccan first team.


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Marc Wilmots: The match against Morocco will be like a final – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Graeme Jackson

Monday Oct 09, 2017. 21:00

The Ivory Coast v Morocco match in Abidjan match in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers next month has been likened to a final by Elephants coach Marc Wilmots.

The Elephants dropped off the summit of Group C this past weekend after they were held 0-0 by Mali in Bamako, allowing Morocco to leapfrog into first place with a 3-0 win over Gabon.

The top two teams will meet in Abidjan in the final round of matches next month, with Morocco needing only a draw to secure a place in Russia 2018.

Ivory Coast, meanwhile, must defeat the Atlas Lions to reclaim first place and secure a berth at their fourth successive World Cup.

Wilmots believed his defence did a superb job in keeping Mali at bay, and also cited their injury problems as a contributing factor in their failure to win.

“Overall, there was a dominance of Mali which is a very difficult team to play at home,” said the Belgian coach, as quoted by Fratmat.

“The defence was in place but I think it was the whole team that made the effort,” added Wilmots.

“The attackers participated in this work. Notably Roger Assalé and Maxwell Cornet.

“We had a lot of injuries before this game. We had to rebuild a team and quickly. This is the first time this midfielder has played together.”

The Elephants coach concluded, “We took a point on this game. We will have a final in Abidjan that we must win against Morocco.”


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Morocco out to demolish Gabon – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Morocco out to demolish Gabon

Nabil Dirar of Morocco evades tackle from Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet of Egypt during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football Quarter Final match between Egypt and Morocco at the Port Gentil Stadium in Gabon on 29 January 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Oct 06, 2017. 14:00

Morocco will be gunning for a victory at home as they welcome Gabon for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Fresh from a 6-0 win and a 0-0 draw against the Eagles of Mali last month, the hosts will want to claim a convincing win.

The Lions of Atlas are favourites to book a spot in Russia next year and winning their matches at home is seen as a step towards that mission.

Coach Herve Renard’s men sit at number two in the Group C with six points from one win and three draws, but will be motivated at home.

Looking at the Panthers, Gabon occupy the third spot with five points with two draws, one loss and one win.

Although they failed to bag a win at home in the first match last year, the 2017 CAF African Cup of Nations hosts will be under pressure to secure a win.

A win for them will see them up to eight points and topple their hosts, but Morocco will have nine points if they win.

The World Cup Qualifier will be staged on Saturday at the Stade Mohammed V at 21:00 (CAT).


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Morocco, Equatorial Guinea bid for CHAN 2018


Phumzile Ngcatshe

Monday Oct 02, 2017. 12:30

The latest news regarding the 2018 CAF African Nations Championship tournament is that Morocco and Equatorial Guinea have tabled bids to host the showpiece.

The BBC reports that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that the two countries have submitted bids to host the CHAN tournament.


Morocco confirmed their bid on Saturday and they have joined Equatorial Guinea as the two countries to submit their bids before the deadline last weekend.

The continental football governing body opened the bids as Kenya was stripped of the right to host after failing to meet the requirements.

Although the successful bid will be announced next weekend, the biennial tournament is set to be staged from January 12 to February 4 next year and is for locally-based players only.


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Sundowns up against it in Morocco


Sundowns up against it in Morocco

George Lebese of Mamelodi Sundowns and Nhlanhla Vilakazi(r) and Nyiko Mobbie of Free State Stars during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Free State Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns at Goble Park, Bethlehem on 11 September 2017 © Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

Brian Lee

Friday Sep 22, 2017. 13:30

Wydad Casablanca will face off with Mamelodi Sundowns in the 2017 CAF Champions League quarter-final second-leg match at the Stade Mohamed V on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 10:00pm.

The Kings of Titles were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Sundowns in the first-leg match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in South Africa last weekend.

This year, Wydad are hoping to go all the way and clinch their second Champions League title having won their first trophy in 1992.

Achraf Bencharki, who scored twice in the group stage, is one of Kings of Titles’ dangermen and the winger will look inspire his side to victory at home.

The midfielder is available after missing the first-leg encounter due to suspension. He is expected to feature for the Kings of Titles in Casablanca.

Wydad head coach Hussein Ammouta says his team will be more in offensive this time around, but they also need to be cautious at the back.

“We have to take care of Sundowns’ offensive players,” Ammouta said.

“But we also have to take more risks and attack them because we lost the ball a lot here. We didn’t create too many chances to score.

“We have to take more risks at home because it is the final game. Mamelodi have a good record away from home, so we have to balance how we defend and attack them.”

Meanwhile, Sundowns will feel that they are in control of this tie even though, they recorded a narrow victory at home.

The Brazilians are hoping to become the first team to successfully defend this prestigious tournament since 2013.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly, who are record eight-time winners, defended the trophy after defeating SA’s Orlando Pirates in the final four years ago.

Yannick Zakri, who netted the only goal of the match in the first-leg, is a key player for Sundowns and the forward will be eager to produce another match-winning performance.

Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane says they know exactly what to expect in Morocco and they will fight for another victory.

“We have to give everything we have. This is the last match of the quarterfinal. You win, you are in the semi-finals and you lose, then you are out,” Mosimane said.

“It’s going to be a fight there. But we have experience playing in the Champions League. We know their mentality. They will come to your bench and provoke you. They will also burn things.

“That’s their culture, mentality and belief when they play at home. We have been to Zamalek, Al Ahly, Esperance and it was tough, but we made it. We are the champions of Africa – we have the experience and know what to expect there.”

The winner on aggregate between Wydad and Sundowns will lock horns with either Algerian club USM Alger or Mozambican side Ferroviário Beira in the semi-finals.


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Zakri: There will be fire in Morocco – 2017 CAF Champions League


Zakri: There will be fire in Morocco

Yannick Zakri of Mamelodi Sundown 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Sep 20, 2017. 13:00

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Yannick Zakri says their CAF Champions League quarterfinal, second leg clash against Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca will not be a walk in the park.

The Cote d’Ivoirean attacker netted the winning goal last weekend as the African champions beat the Moroccans 1-0 in Tshwane.

The former Asec Mimosas forward said he knows life will be tough in Casablanca.

“It’s fire there. Fire! Arab teams are totally different when they play at home. I know it will be very difficult,” Zakri tells the IOL.

“I have played Wydad three times. I know every player there. I know how Wydad play, how they attack and defend.

“I know everything. But every game you play isn’t the same. As much as I know them, they also know me. Maybe they are working on how to stop me.”

Meanwhile, together with teammates such as Themba Zwane and Motjeka Madisha, Zakri has been included in the CAF Best XI after the first leg matches.


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Mali earn some semblance of pride after horrible showing by Morocco – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Staff Reporter

Tuesday Sep 05, 2017. 23:15

Mali earned some semblance of pride after holding the high-firing Moroccans to a goalless draw in their 2018 FIFA World Cup, Group C qualifier at the Stade 26 Mars in Bamako on Tuesday night.

The Malians came into this fixture in front of their home fans following an embarrassing 6-0 loss at the hands of Morocco in a Group C match last Friday.

In Bamako on Tuesday, though, the Eagles were determined not to concede a goal and that is just exactly what they did.

Mali set-up in an extremely defensive pattern from the onset with the majority of their players constantly behind the ball.

Luckily for the home side Morocco were not at their best in the final third and often wasted possession with woeful passing or horribly miss-guided long range shots.

Consequently, the pattern of the game emerged as Mali parked the bus in defence and Morocco failed to break it down.

Decent goal scoring chances were few and far between.

However, despite a horrendous showing on the night Morocco could have won the game in the 72nd minute, but Hakim Ziyech failed to score from the penalty spot.

Ziyech’s missed effort on goal summed up the night perfectly with both countries wasting our time in a 0-0 draw.

Morocco have the most to lose from the draw as they moved up to six points in Group C, a point behind table-toppers Cote d’Ivoire who lost 2-1 to Gabon also on Tuesday night – a win for the North Africans could have seen them in driving seat for Russia 2018.

Gabon are now third in Group C with five points, followed by last placed Mali on 2 points.


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Mali eyeing redemption against Morocco in Bamako – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Mali eyeing redemption against Morocco in Bamako

Molla Wague of Mali challenged by Luwaga Kizoto of Uganda during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Uganda and Mali at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 25 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Phumzile Ngcatshe

Monday Sep 04, 2017. 14:30

Mali will bank on their home ground advantage when they host Morocco for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The Eagles are under pressure to return to winning ways following an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at the hands of their visitors last week in Rabat.

The heavy defeat has left the West Africans sitting at number four in Group C standings with one point from two losses and one draw.

Coach Alain Giresse will now have to uplift the morale of his team and push them to fight for the full three points in front of their home crowd in Bamako.

Shifting focus to the Lions of the Atlas, coach Herve Renard has challenged his men to forget the 6-0 win and focus on completing the job away.

Although his side is high in confidence, they will have to guard against complacency to ensure they challenge Cote d’Ivoire at the top of the table.

The North Africans occupy the second spot with five points from one win and two draws so far in their campaign. A win will see them with eight points at the top the table, provided the Elephants lose to Gabon on the same day.

“We did well against Mali, we intimidated them into mistakes and voila!,” said Renard.

“There are still three qualifier games ahead of us, but Tuesday’s match is the most important one for me.

“We should forget about this one now and look forward a great result in Bamako.”

The match will be staged at the Stade 26 Mars in Bamako on Tuesday, getting underway 21:00 (CAT).


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Morocco coach: Forget Friday’s win over Mali – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Graeme Jackson

Sunday Sep 03, 2017. 14:00

Morocco must forget about their big win over Mali on Friday night and re-focus for the rematch, according to coach Herve Renard.

The Atlas Lions powered to an impressive 6-0 win over the Eagles in Rabat, with Hakim Ziyech, Khalid Boutaib, Achraf Hakimi, Faycal Fajr and Mimoun Mahi sharing the half dozen goals.

Having claimed such an emphatic victory, Morocco are the clear favourites ahead of the teams’ return meeting in Bamako on Tuesday night.

Yet Renard insists that his side must still be wary of their opponents, labeling the game in the Malian capital as the ‘most important’.

“We did well against Mali, we intimidated them into mistakes and voila!” the French coach explained.

“There are still three qualifier games ahead of us, but Tuesday’s match is the most important one for me.”

The Morocco tactician added, “We should forget about this one now and look forward a great result in Bamako.”

Mali and Morocco will meet at the September 28 Stadium on Tuesday night, kick-off at 21h00 CAT.


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Nightmare in Rabat for Mali as Morocco score six – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Nightmare in Rabat for Mali as Morocco score six

Khalid Boutaib of Morocco

Brian Lee

Saturday Sep 02, 2017. 00:16

It was a nightmare to forget for Mali on Friday night after Morocco slammed six goals past the nine-man Eagles side to register a 6-0 victory in a 2018 World Cup, Group C qualifier match at the Stade Moulay Abdellah in Rabat.

The home side took control of the tie from the opening whistle and made their pressure tell with the game’s first goal in the 19th minute when Hakim Ziyech found the back of the net, 1-0.

Morocco doubled their lead eight minutes later when Khalid Boutaib slotted the ball home with a clinical finish, 2-0.

Mali did not offer much in attack and defended with all their might to go into the break only trailing by two goals.

Any chance of a fight-back from Mali were dealt a massive blow in the 57th minute when they were reduced to ten men following the sending off of Bakaye Dibassy after receiving a second yellow card.

On the hour mark Hakim Ziyech put the result beyond doubt with his second goal of the night and his country’s third, 3-0.

Matters went from bad to worse for the visiting Mali when they were reduced to nine men following the sending off of Mohamed Konate in the 67th minute after his second booking as well.

The icing on the cake for Morocco was their fourth goal, scored by Achraf Hakimi in the 72nd minute, 4-0.

Mali tried to defend as best they could after that with their nine men, but they could not finish the night without conceding two more goals – substitutes Faycal Fajr and Mimoun Mahi scoring for Morocco in the 86th and 89th minutes respectively, 6-0.

The win takes Morocco to the top of Group C with five points from three matches, one point above second placed Cote d’Ivoire who are in action against Gabon on Saturday.

Gabon are third in Group C with two points from two matches while Mali are last with one point from three games.

Morocco (2) 6 (Ziyech 19’ + 61’, Boutaib 27’, Hakimi 72’, Fajr 86’, Mahi 89’)

Mali (0) 0


Morocco: Munir, Amrabat (Tannane 74’), Belhanda, Benatia, Boussoufa, Boutaib (Mahi 80’), Dirar, El Ahmadi (Fajr 85’), Hakimi, Saiss, Ziyech.

Mali: Sissoko, Wague, Dibassy, Traore, Kouame (Kone 64’), Bissouma (Couilbaly 78’), Diaby (Doumbia 66’), Konate, Marega, N’Diaye, Sylla.


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Three battles which will decide Morocco v Mali – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Three battles which will decide Morocco v Mali

Yacouba Sylla of Mali challenged by Denis Iguma of Uganda during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Uganda and Mali at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 25 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Aug 30, 2017. 20:00

AfricanFootball looks at three key battles which will decide the outcome of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Morocco and Mali in Rabat on Friday night.

Walid Azaro v Mahamadou N’Diaye

Morocco have struggled for many years to find a striker who can burden the responsibility of leading their attack, and in youngster Walid Azaro they have a player who could be a star of the future. The 21-year-old Al Ahly forward will be eager to establish himself in the Atlas Lions side, but he faces a tough opponent in the shape of Mahamadou N’Diaye, an experienced centre-back who has been to three Africa Cup of Nations with the Eagles and is regarded as one of their current generation’s best defenders.

Mbark Boussoufa v Yacouba Sylla

Mbark Boussoufa is a hugely experienced attacking midfielder and Morocco coach Herve Renard will be expecting the 33-year-old to direct his team’s attack on Friday night. The man looking to stymie his efforts will be Mali’s captain Yacouba Sylla. The 26-year-old French-born player – who completed a move from Rennes to Panathinaikos this week – is tough in the tackle and covers plenty of ground. The midfield battle between these two players will be vital in determining the outcome of the match.

Medhi Benatia v Kalifa Coulibaly

Atlas Lions coach Renard scored a major coup by convincing defender Medhi Benatia to return to the national team. The Juventus centre-back will bring solidity, composure and experience to the heart of Morocco’s defence, providing them with the foundation to build the rest of the team on. Benatia’s direct opponent is likely to be Kalifa Coulibaly, a powerful striker who stands almost two metres tall and scored a goal in Mali’s 2-1 win over Gabon in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers just a few months back.


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Advantage Morocco heading into Rabat tussle


Advantage Morocco heading into Rabat tussle

Nabil Dirar of Morocco evades tackle from Mahmoud Abdelmoneim Kahraba of Egypt during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football Quarter Final match between Egypt and Morocco at the Port Gentil Stadium in Gabon on 29 January 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Bertin Basson

Friday Aug 18, 2017. 10:30

It is advantage Morocco heading into their 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) Northern Zone second-leg qualifier against Egypt at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Friday evening.

Kick-off is at 21h00 CAT.

The Atlas Lions held their rivals to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture hosted in Alexandria last weekend, with the visitors building on their impressive record against the mighty Egyptians.

Ahmed El Sheikh handed the hosts an early lead from the penalty spot, but Morocco hit back through Badr Banoun following the break to secure a favourable result.

Despite their dominance in Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Tournaments over the years, Egypt have yet to qualify for a single CHAN tournament in their history.

Morocco have qualified for two previous CHAN tournaments, with their best showing coming in South Africa three years ago as they reached the quarterfinals.

In 28 previous meetings – as per – Morocco have come out on top on 13 occasions compared to three wins for their opponents. 12 fixtures ended all square.

The aggregate winner will book their place at next year’s showpiece in Kenya.


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Morocco grab crucial away goal in Egypt


Austin Ditlhobolo

Sunday Aug 13, 2017. 21:13

Egypt were held to a 1-1 draw by Morocco in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier on Sunday.

The Northern Zone first-leg match took place at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

The Pharaohs, who were taking part in the CHAN qualifiers for the first time, took an early lead.

Ahmed El-Sheikh converted from the spot-kick just four minutes into the game after Egypt were awarded a penalty.

It was nearly 2-0 to Egypt a minute before the half-hour mark as they pressed the Atlas Lions.

However, Hossam Hassan’s well-taken shot went just wide of the post as the hosts looked to double their lead.

Morocco stood firm in the remaining minutes of the first-half and the score 1-0 to Egypt at the interval.

The Atlas Lions had a bright start to the second-half and they managed to level matters seven minutes after the restart.

Raja Badr was the man, who rose highest to head home a well-taken set piece – making it 1-1 in the process.

Morocco were then awarded a penalty on the hour-mark with the Atlas Lions being handed a chance to take the lead for the first time.

However, Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Awad produced a beautiful save to deny Badr from the spot-kick.

Although, both sides launched late attacks, they could not score and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.


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Egypt face Morocco in historic clash


Egypt face Morocco in historic clash

epa05630302 Egyptian players celebrate after Abdealah Allsaeed (C) scores a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying soccer match between Egypt and Ghana at Borg Al Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt, 13 November 2016. EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Austin Ditlhobolo

Friday Aug 11, 2017. 18:00

Egypt will take on Morocco in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier on Sunday.

Kick-off is at 19h00 CAT.

The Northern Zone first-leg match will be played at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

The Pharoahs have never taken part in the qualifiers of this tournament since its inception in 2009.

Egypt will look to qualify for the CHAN finals in their maiden appearance in the qualifiers.

Hamada Sedki will be in charge of the Pharoahs as the head coach during their clashes with Morocco.

Meanwhile, Morocco have participated in the last two CHAN finals (in 2014 and 2016).

The Atlas Lions have reached the knockout stages once. They were defeated in the quarter-finals in 2014.

Jamal Salami is the man, who is in charge of the Morocco team, ahead of the encounters with Egypt.

Referee Mohamed Ragab Omar, who hails from Libya, will officiate the game between Egypt and Morocco.

The second-leg match will take place at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in the capital city of Morocco, Rabat.

The winner on aggregate between the two North African giants will advance to the finals.


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Renard: Morocco to benefit from Ziyech return – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Renard: Morocco to benefit from Ziyech return

Herve Renard, coach of Morocco and players celebrates a victory during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 24 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Austin Ditlhobolo

Tuesday Aug 01, 2017. 18:00

Morocco head coach Herve Renard is pleased to see Hakim Ziyech return to the national team which is nicknamed, the Atlas Lions.

The two had a misunderstanding after the French tactician decided to exclude Ajax Amsterdam star Ziyech from the Morocco squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.

However, Renard and Ziyech recently solved their differences after Fouzi Lekjaa, the president of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), intervened.

Renard is now looking forward to working with the Moroccan-Dutch attacking midfielder again.

“The conflict between Ziyech and me was a simple misunderstanding that I would say it came from both sides,” Renard said on

“That being said, we discussed it together and we buried this dispute.

“Ziyech does not have a bad character, impose at the high level. His return will be beneficial for the national team.”

The 24-year-old attacker helped Dutch side Ajax reach the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League final where they lost to English giants Manchester United.


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Pinnick: Morocco capable of hosting World Cup – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


Pinnick: Morocco capable of hosting World Cup

Oliseh (left) with NFF president Amaju Pinnick

Austin Ditlhobolo

Thursday Jul 27, 2017. 12:00

Morocco’s 2026 FIFA World Cup bid would be backed by CAF according to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick.

The tournament is the next one up for grabs, with Russia and Qatar set to host the 2018 and 2022 competitions respectively.

Thus far the United States of America (U.S.A), Canada and Mexico have disclosed plans to submit a joint bid for the 2026 event.

“I’ve been told Morocco wants to put in its bid and Caf will support them 100%,” Pinnick told BBC Sport.

“I’d be surprised (if Morocco does not put in a bid), but I think they will.

“It’s a country that can host the world. They are very hospitable people, there is a good network of roads and have practically everything,” the CAF executive committee member added.

“If they want to host the World Cup, Caf will support them 100%. Morocco has leaders right now who are eager and excited about developing the game, not just in Africa.

“This weekend they are hosting the French Super Cup – between Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco – they’ve hosted the Club World Cup (in 2013 and 2014), they’ve hosted practically everything.”

Morocco made unsuccessful bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. Africa are amongst the four confederations that can bid for the 2026 tournament.


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