2018 FIFA World Cup will have a lot of known faces missing from the competition. The likes of Chile, Italy and The USA have missed their ticket to the Russia FIFA World Cup but fans will get to witness some new faces. Arab nations will be making headlines in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and we look at one nation which is making their return to the FIFA World Cup in the gap of 20 years. We are talking about the Atlas lions, The Morrocan national team.
The Morrocan rise to the top has been more of smartness and emphasis on identifying talent in the nation as well as in Europe. We going to dissect their successful qualifying campaign and major factors played in their rise to the African football.
European Football Experience
Europe has seen success over the last few years and the major factor has been the competitiveness in the club structure. Playing and developing in such environment gives the player edge over rest of the world and hat has worked in Morrocan favor. 80% of the Morrocan national team have born and brought up in Europe. Some of the players have trained with a top European club and have prefered to play for their homeland than the nation they were born.
Achraf Hakimi surprised a lot of people when the 19-year-old defender chose Morroco over Spain despite being part of Real Madrid. Many pundits believed that Hakimi would have been in the Spain team if he had not chosen for Morroco but a decision like these has made a huge difference for Morrocan football.
Schalke Midfielder Amine Harit is one more example of a young player living his dream with Morroco national team. The 20-year-old played his youth football for France till U-21 level before switching his alliance with the Morrocan national team. Harit is one of the most sorted players in German Bundesliga and his performance this season has been exceptional.
Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal, Ajax’s Hakim Zeyech or Feyenoord’s Sofyan Amrabat are few names which been instrumental taking Morroco to the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. All of them are regular for their clubs in Europe and could have played for the nation of their birth.
The Eye Pleasing Football
Morroco plays an eye-pleasing football despite being physically strong. Such unique combo makes them a team which can match best in the business and in any conditions. The Spanish and Dutch influence is not just because of the players coming through these European nations but also the coaching system place in the Morrocan football.
The Batola league which is the top division in Morroco historically signed Spanish managers. The style of football in the Morrocan football is based on possession-based football which makes it easy for the national team to play the same style of football.
The Road To the 2018 FIFA World Cup
Herve Renard and his experience of working in Africa played huge divided for Morroco. They were clubbed in the group consisting of Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali. Morroco was not really a team favored to win the group against the heavyweights like Ivory Coast and Mali but the team not only qualified but remained unbeaten in the group.
In the entire qualification campaign, Morroco did not concede a single goal while Pumping 11 in 6 matches. Their biggest win came against Mali, whom they thrashed 6-0 in Rabat.
2018 FIFA World Cup Group B
Morroco may find it hard to get through the group stage but they will definitely love not to finish last in the group. The will start their campaign against Asian powerhouse Iran. Even though Iran has World Cup experience, Morroco will start favorite against the Iranians. Morroco will hope to start the tournament on a winning note.
The other two teams in the group are Spain and Portugal, both of them are tipped to go through the group stage.