Morocco at the Qatar World Cup 2022

Braimoh Usman Daniel
04 Nov 2022
02:28

As all countries gather to watch the long-awaited FIFA World Cup, squads and coaches warm up to the daunting fact that it has rigidly evolved into survival of the fittest. As fans and pundits alike travel to Qatar to watch, view and cheer their compatriots on, it remains unsaid that the unrivaled tournament would make blood boil as emotions of hysteria, joy, tears, and hope would be thrown around during numerous moments.

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Morocco Atlas lions
Morocco Atlas lions

The story of the Atlas Lions would be unfairly said without adding teamwork and resilience. With teams like Egypt, Nigeria, and Algeria, Morocco was considered a serious underdog in the face of the World Cup Qualifiers. Nonetheless, a wonderful display of top-notch resilience against the democratic republic of Congo (Congo DR) saw the side gain qualification in a match that ended four goals to one. (4-1). Evidently, they would be one of the African flag bearers in the competition, alongside the Black Stars of Ghana, Lions of Teranga (Senegal), the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.

For the Atlas Lions, they have revealed their presence in the FIFA World Cup six times so far, retaining Qatar, having qualified for the latter rounds in 1970, 1986,1994, 1998, 2018, and yours truly, 2022. A gnawing fact remains that they have never proceeded past the round of 16 since 1986.In the next round of the competition, they have been grouped together with Belgium, Canada, and Croatia in Group F. A group in which they are considered heavy underdogs.

Mexico 1970

Following the 1966 boycott, FIFA reserved a position to one country from CAF. Morocco's initial grand entrance to this competition was in Mexico in 1970. Highlights from the tournament saw Morocco's trophy hopes dashed by West Germany, despite taking the lead.

Mexico 1986

Sixteen years later, (1986) they made it to the round of 16, where Nemesis West Germany once again crushed their hopes of advancement, even though they were pitched against Portugal, England, and Poland.

USA 1994

The Moroccans performed poorly in Group F, losing to Belgium one goal to nil,(1-0) Saudi Arabia, two goals to one (2-1), and to the Netherlands, two goals to one (2-1). This led to a quick exit from the competition which starred other African giants like Nigeria, Tunisia, etc.

France 1998

Easily referred to as "Morocco's unlucky Summer in France, they were paired with England, Norway, and Scotland. They drew the opening match against Norway two-two (2-2), were outclassed by Brazil three goals to nil (3-0) after which they lost the final round in evidence of an "Anti-African bias" and crashed out of the competition.

Russia 2018

Russia 2018 saw the Atlas Lions qualify after twenty years of tournament drought, the team lost to Iran and Portugal, tying in a two-two (2-2) duel with Spain, making their exit inevitable, despite the heavy celebrations commemorating the squad's return to the competition.

YearWinnerStage achieved Overall Position
1970 Brazil Group Stage-
1986  Argentina Round of 16 16th
1994 Brazil Group Stage -
1998 France Group Stage -
2018 France Group Stage -
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An honorable Moroccan World Cup mention would be Mohammed Timoumi. Named as one of the best 200 African footballers, won a CAF Champions League with FAR de Rabat in 1985, the same year he was named African Footballer of the Year. He also featured on the Squad that advanced to the Round of 16 in the 1986 World Cup. A feat no African country could achieve at that time. The current world cup squad entails lots of players to watch out for. They include PSG's Achraf Hakimi, Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech, and a host of others.

Morocco FIFA World Cup 2022 Squad
Morocco FIFA World Cup 2022 Squad

With nothing confirmed, the 26-manned squad for the World Cup would entail fifteen players on the sidelines and five substitutes. All these are recent reforms by FIFA. As such the brimming and hopeful youngsters would do their best to replay the biblical story of David and Goliath, obliterating everyone in their path and proceeding further than all of their predecessors.

A tentative squad list includes:

GK: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)

GK: Munir El Kajoui (Al Wehda)

GK: Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)

GK: Anas Zniti (Raja CA)

DF: Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain)

DF: Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich)

DF: Ganza Ek Niyssaiyu (RS Berkane)

DF: Romain Saiss (Besiktas)

DF: Achraf Dari (Brest)

DF: Badr Benoun (Qatar SC)

DF: Yahia Attiyat Allah (Wydad Casablanca)

DF: Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid)

DF: Samy Mmaee (Ferencvaros)

MF: Younes Belhanda (Adana Demirspor)

MF: Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina)

MF: Azzedine Ounahi (Angers)

MF: Abdelhamid Sabiri (Sampdoria)

MF: Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers)

MF: Selim Amallah (Standard Liege)

MF: Yahya Jabrane (Wydad Casablanca)

MF: Amine Harit (Marseille)

FW: Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)

FW: Munir El Haddadi (Getafe)

FW: Zakaria Aboukhlal (Toulouse)

FW: Ayoub El Kaabi (Hatayspor)

FW: Walid Cheddira (Bari)

FW: Soufiane Rahimi (Al-Ain)

FW: Sofiane Boufal (Angers)

FW: Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla)

FW: Ryan Mmaee (Ferencvaros)

FW: Abde Ezzalzouli (Osasuna)

Walid Regragui
Walid Regragui

With his predecessor dismissed on August 11, 2022, the forty-six-year-old coach, was born south of France and capped as a defensive player for Dijon, Toulouse, Grenoble, and Ajaccio. Nationally, he has forty-five caps to his name.He holds a personal record as the first Moroccan indigene to coordinate affairs since 2016. He also was coach to FUS rabat, Qatar Club Al-Duhali, and Wydad Casablanca, leading the team to a successful campaign as champion. To top it all, he was teammates with Mohammed Timoumi and an integral part of the 1986 squad that played in Argentina. Fans would be looking to see him reinvigorate the lads to bring out the spirit of 1986 - and even more.

Pitched against Croatia, Belgium, and Canada, Morocco has a decent chance to advance to the round of 16. The boost of the new Coach and the quality of talents in the lineup proves that Morocco could go all the way through. However, Belgium and Croatia would serve as unforgettable thorns in the flesh. The boys have a lot to prove and they should give their all to change the course of history.

An initial clash against the Croatian side on the 23rd of November would give them a four-day resting period before locking horns with Belgium, a match in which they would have to play their lives if they hoped to win. On December 1st, they face Canada as their final fixture, a game which would spell further progress or doom for the squad depending on their performance.

DateFixtureStadiumTime
November 23rd Morocco vs CroatiaAl Bayt Stadium13:00
November 27thMorocco vs BelgiumAl Thumama16:00
December 1stMorocco vs CanadaAl Thumama18:00
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