Ahram Online, Tuesday 17 Jan 2012


Qualifying campaign: Morocco qualified for CAN as Group D leaders following a tough competition with Central Africa and North African rivals Algeria. The Atlas Lions collected 11 points to finish three points ahead of their rivals, Central Africa and Algeria.

The Atlas Lions’ triumphant campaign marked their return to Africa’s elites after missing the past edition in Angola. 

History: Just like Tunisia - their rivals in the group - Morocco will make their 14th appearance in the biennial tournament. The Atlas Lions clinched the title in 1976 and were runners up in 2004. Morocco qualified for four World Cups in 1970, 1986, 1994 and 1998 but their participation in 1986 was the most successful as they managed to reach the second round of the football’s most prestigious tournament.

Expectations:  Belgian coach Eric Gerets has built a promising Moroccan squad that is tipped for big things. The Atlas Lions shouldn’t find any troubles in the group stage but the question is how far will they go. Gerets believes that the team needs to improve to be a serious title contender but a top four place would be a satisfying outcome.

FIFA ranking: 61 (11 in Africa)


Winner of CAN in 1976
Made 13 appearances in CAN
Made 4 World Cup appearances in 1970, 1986, 1994 and 1998
Qualified for round of 16 in 1986 World Cup


Coach: Eric Gerets (Belgium).

Key players: Marouane Chamakh, Oussama Assaidi, Mehdi Benatia, Adel Taarabt, Youssef Hadji.


Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Nadir Lamyaghri (Wydad Casablanca, Morocco), Issam Badda (FUS Rabat, Morocco), Mohamed Amsif (Augsburg, Germany).

Defenders: Jamal Alioui (El-Kharytiah, Qatar), Michael Basser (Bursaspor, Turkey), Mehdi Benatia (Udinese, Italy), Abdelfettah Boukhriss (FUS Rabat, Morocco), Badr El-Kaddouri (Celtic, Scotland), Abdelhamid El-Kaoutari (Montpellier, France), Ahmed Kantari (Brest, France), Mustapha Mrani (Moghreb Fez, Morocco).

Midfielders: Nordin Amrabat (Kayserispor, Turkey), Younes Belhanda (Montpellier, France), M’Bark Boussoufa (Anzhi, Russia), Karim El-Ahmadi (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Adil Hermach (Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Houcine Kharja (Fiorentina, Italy).

Forwards: Oussama Assaidi (Heerenveen, Netherlands), Mehdi Carcela (Anzhi, Russia), Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal, England), Youssef El-Arabi (Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Youssef Hadji (Rennes, France), Adel Taarabt (QPR, England).

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