Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Morocco World Cup squad guide: Full fixtures, group, ones to watch, odds and more

PROFILE: With the tournament only days away we take an in-depth look at all 32 teams in Russia

Jack Watson
Tuesday 05 June 2018 11:26 BST
Comments
2018 Russia World Cup in numbers

Having been sacked after 25 games with Cambridge United in 2004, Herve Renard has become an experienced international manager and guided Morocco to their first World Cup finals since France 1998. Renard has made Morocco a very difficult team to beat and a frustrating side to play against; they did not concede a single goal in their six game qualifying group.

The surprise squad news is that there is no room in the team for Southampton’s once record signing, Sofiane Boufal. The winger reportedly angered Saints manager Mark Hughes by refusing to warm up in April’s 3-2 defeat against Chelsea, after which he was ordered to train with the club’s under-23 side.

Morocco’s best finish in a World Cup was when they were beaten in the round of 16 by West Germany, having topped the group ahead of England, Poland and Portugal in 1986.

Fixtures

Morocco vs Iran – 16:00, Friday 15 June
Portugal vs Morocco – 13:00, Wednesday 20 June
Spain vs Morocco – 19:00, Monday 25 June

Key Players

Mehdi Benatia: Morocco’s captain and arguably best player, Medhi Benatia’s performances will set the tempo for this team. Morocco like things very tight at the back and keep their defensive and midfield lines very close to each other. The Juventus central defender will be vocal across the back line, which will be seriously tested against Portugal and Spain.

Benatia will skipper the side in Russia (Getty Images)

Hakim Ziyech: After winning Dutch Footballer of the year, Ajax and Morocco playmaker Hakim Ziyech has been compared to former Ajax number ten, Christian Eriksen. The 25 year old has emerged as an important part of Morocco’s attacking set up as the side’s main playmaker. Ziyech is also well known as a good free kick taker, he has scored goals from outrageous positions. One to keep an eye on.

Younes Belhanda: The French-born midfielder was an eye-catching part of Montpellier’s 2011-12 Ligue 1 winning side and was named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year, included in the Team of the Year, and won Goal of the Year in a memorable season. He has since played for Dynamo Kyiv, Schalke, Nice and Galatasaray and remained an important player for Morocco in the last eight years.

One to watch

Amine Harit

Having represented France from under-18 level through to the under-21s after refusing a call up to Morocco’s under-19 squad, Amine Harit then pledged his allegiance to Morocco, the birth-place of his parents. “My choice, my country. It was important for me to represent my family as they deserve,” Harit said in September.

The 20-year-old midfielder earned a move from Nates to Schalke where he won the Bundesliga Rookie of the 2017/18 season award, beating Jadon Sancho.

“People could think I’m arrogant, but that’s not the case at all,” he explained to L’Equipe. “I’ve a bit of a provocative style of play.”

How did they get here?

Morocco finished above Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali in an impressive qualifying campaign where they won three and drew three games without conceding a single goal.

How will they do?

Morocco, who are bidding to host the 2026 World Cup, have only ever won just two World Cup matches, against Portugal in 1986 and against Scotland in 1998. With Spain and Portugal in their group, it is unlikely that they will advance, although a win against Iran in their first game they could be ready to apply pressure on the big two if they slip up.

Odds on winning the World Cup: 300/1

Squad

Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui, Yassine Bounou, Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti

Defenders: Mehdi Benatia, Romain Saiss, Manuel Da Costa, Badr Benoun, Nabil Dirar, Achraf Hakimi, Hamza Mendyl

Midfielders: M'bark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, Youssef Ait Bennasser, Sofyan Amrabat, Younes Belhanda, Faycal Fajr, Amine Harit

Forwards: Khalid Boutaib, Aziz Bouhaddouz, Ayoub El Kaabi, Nordin Amrabat, Mehdi Carcela, Hakim Ziyech

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in