Mehdi Benatia

Ahram Online, Wednesday 18 Jan 2012

Morocco's solid defender

Mehdi Benatia

The central defender is expected to be one of Morocco’s key players at the upcoming CAN, given his consistent displays with Italian Serie A side Udinese.

The 24-year-old has impressed since joining Udinese in the summer of 2010 from French minnows Clermont, producing a string of impressive displays at the back. He made 34 league appearances in his first season in Italy, scoring three goals.

His form fuelled speculation that he could move to English Premier League side Arsenal but he eventually stayed put, maintaining his solid performances this term as Udinese moved into the league’s third spot at the halfway stage of the season.

Recent reports also suggested that Manchester United are keeping tabs on Benatia.

“We are going to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to compete for the CAN title. We are aware of the responsibility we are carrying on our shoulders,” he told Moroccan paper El-Montakhab.

“We will do our best to put in fine displays and atone for our disappointing participations in the past years.”

Benatia made his international debut in June 2009 in a World Cup qualifying game against Cameroon. He scored his first goal for Morocco in the famous 4-0 victory over North African rivals Algeria in a CAN qualifier in June last year.

He is known for his aerial prowess and ability to steal possession from opponents without committing any fouls.

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