Qatar 2022 Team Preview: Atlas Lions
Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji
The Atlas Lions of Morocco will be making its sixth appearance at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup with its second back-to-back appearance after achieving a similar feat in 1994 (United States of America) and 1998 (France).
Morocco had played five previous World Cups in 1970 (Mexico), 1986 (Mexico), 1994 (United States of America), 1998 (France), and 2018 (Russia).
Out of its previous five appearances, the team only made it out of the group stage once in 1986.
Morocco in 1986 played out a 0-0 draws with Poland and ten-man England, before defeating Portugal 3-1 courtesy of Abderrazak Khairi’s brace and a goal from Abdelkrim Merry before Diamantino’s consolation goal for Portugal.
The North African side tops Group F with four points ahead of England (3 points), Poland (3 points), and Portugal (2 points).
The team became the first African side to top a group at the FIFA World Cup.
Apart from Mexico 1986 showings, Morocco has not made it past the group stage of the other four World Cups it attended.
After retiring as a player, Regragui began football coaching as an assistant for Morocco’s national team in September 2012.
When the head coach Rachid Taoussi was sacked on 1 October 2013, his contract was also terminated.
He coached the Moroccan side, Fath Union Sport for the 204/2015 season and left by mutual consent.
On 10 August 2021, Regragui was appointed as the head coach of Botola side Wydad AC.
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On 30 May 2022, he leads Wydad AC to win its 3rd CAF Champions League title, after beating defending champions Al Ahly in the final.
He became only the second Moroccan manager to win the African Champions League, after Hussein Ammouta with Wydad in 2017.
On 31 August 2022, Regragui was appointed as the new head coach for the Morocco national football team after the sacking of former head coach Vahid Halilhodžić.
Born in the Netherlands into a Moroccan family, Hakim Ziyech was eligible to play for either Netherlands or Morocco national team at the international level.
He played for Dutch national youth teams, playing for the under-19’s, under-20’s, and under-21’s. However, he opted to play for Morocco at the senior level.
He received his first call-up to the senior squad in May 2015, for friendly matches against the United States and Latvia and has been an integral part of the team ever since. His experience will help Morocco steer the milky Waters of Group F where the team will face Croatia, Belgium, and Canada.
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Upon signing for Borussia Dortmund, Achraf Hakimi was profiled as a quick, dynamic, and powerful right-sided attacking full-back or wing-back, who is tactically and technically adept and capable of playing long accurate passes from defence.
Trained as a winger, the PSG player can also play as a defender due to his physical presence. He is considered by several pundits to be one of the best defenders and right-backs in world football.
Meanwhile, Sevilla striker, En-Nesyri has spent his entire professional footballing career in Spain, representing Málaga, Leganés, and Sevilla. He has made over 150 La Liga appearances and scored over 40 goals.
He made his international debut in 2016 aged 18, after previously being capped by the nation’s youth teams at under-20 and under-23 levels. He was chosen in Morocco’s squads for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017, 2019, and 2021.
His experience will be key to Morocco’s quest to swim through Group F waters.
What To Expect
Expect another group stage exit for the Atlas Lions of Morocco unless a miracle or lull of form happens to Croatia and Belgium.
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