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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Why Morocco will win the Africa Cup next year

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The World Cup in Qatar has been over since December 18, but fans of the Moroccan national team are probably still enjoying Morocco’s great World Cup performance. The next major tournament that is now scheduled for the Lions of the Atlas is the Africa Cup in January 2024. Here are six reasons why Morocco has what it takes to win it.

1. TEAM LESS IN QUALIFYING

Just start at the beginning. Morocco still has to qualify for the Africa Cup, but everything is going well for now. The Lions of the Atlas defeated South Africa (2-1) and Liberia (0-2) in June and are at the top of group K with 6 points. What makes the difference is that they have to play two games less. Group member Zimbabwe has been disqualified, so Morocco will only play against South Africa on June 12 and Liberia on September 4 this year. They have already beaten those teams once, so they should succeed again. Conclusion: Morocco will just qualify.

2. A TOP COACH AND GREAT TEAM SPIRIT

When Walid Regragui was appointed national coach in August 2022, he had little time to forge a close-knit team. In addition, he had to get Hakim Ziyech back into the selection. He no longer wanted to play for Morocco because of a conflict with Regragui’s predecessor Vahid Halilhodžić. Regragui managed to get Ziyech back on board and made the born Drontenaar an important link within the team.

The trust repaid Ziyech double and straight. That was clearly noticeable during the World Cup, because Ziyech – and with him all his teammates – fought for every meter. “Many people say that Hakim is a difficult boy to manage, but I see someone who would give his life if you give him love and trust,” Regragui said after the World Cup victory over Belgium.

Nordin Amrabat – who was not selected, but experienced the Moroccan national team up close during the World Cup – said in conversation with Voetbal International that Regragui enjoys the full confidence of the players: “Regragui has managed to hit the boys. I think It’s really clever, because he’s had very little time to grind everything in.” Nordin’s brother Sofyan Amrabat was present during the World Cup and also had nice words for Regragui after the quarterfinal win against Portugal (1-0). In the middle of an interview with the national coach, Sofyan broke in: “Sorry, sorry, sorry. I have a lot of respect for this man. He’s only been with us for three months. It’s unbelievable.”

Team spirit is one of the most important factors to be successful as a team and that is good for Morocco. With such a team spirit it is almost impossible that they let the Africa Cup win slip by.

3. STRONGEST AFRICAN COUNTRY AT THE MOMENT

In addition to Morocco, four other African countries participated in the World Cup in Qatar, namely Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon and Ghana. Morocco eventually managed to get the furthest by reaching the semi-finals. That was a historic achievement: never before had an African country come this far at a World Cup. It can therefore be concluded that Morocco is the strongest African country at the moment. That is very useful if you want to win the Africa Cup.

4. EVEN MORE TALENTED PLAYERS

At the World Cup, Morocco showed that there is no lack of creativity with players such as Azzedine Ounahi, Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal. Still, the Lions of the Atlas were not at full strength on paper during the tournament. For example, Amine Harit, one of the star players, had to drop out due to an injury. Assuming he is there in 2024, Morocco will make some progress in terms of creativity and that is always a nice bonus.

Due to Morocco’s great performance at the World Cup, there is also a good chance that boys with dual nationality will now choose Morocco more quickly. If top talents with Moroccan roots emerge this year, they could just make it to the Africa Cup selection. The 18-year-old Bilal El Khannouss showed that it is all possible. KRC Genk’s Belgian-Moroccan talent was included in Morocco’s World Cup squad, despite the fact that he has never played an official match for the national team.

5. WON HEARTS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE

Due to the great performance at the World Cup, the enthusiasm around the Moroccan national team has grown. The Lions of the Atlas have not only stolen the hearts of Moroccans, but also millions of football fans around the world. With the support of all those people, Morocco has an extra helping hand compared to the other countries participating in the Africa Cup.

6. IT’S TIME

The last reason is very simple: it is time to win the Africa Cup once again. Morocco was crowned champion of Africa only once in the past, namely in 1976. After more than 40 years, it is now time to give the Moroccan people what they expect from this team: the title win. National coach Regragui also expressed his ambition loud and clear in a press conference after the lost consolation final against Croatia: “I told the players in the dressing room that they have to win the Africa Cup if they want to get a place in history. We have to rule in our continent.”

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