You can see football fields located in the spacious areas of the country quite often еraveling in Morocco. And they are not empty. Local Moroccans play almost on every of them surrounded by a small crowd of fans and onlookers. Football in Morocco is both quite popular sport and hobby for the all-old contingent of the country.
Like most African teams, the Moroccans began their qualifying round with a standoff. Not having achieved great success on the football field, the Frenchman Herve Renard at the age of 30 began to work as a coach. After a couple of years of cooperation at home with the club Darginyan specialist went to travel around the world. Fate threw him in China, England, but most of all Renard excelled with African teams. In 2012, the mentor led the Zambian national team to victory in the African Cup, and three years later repeated his success with Côte d’Ivoire. The French took Moroccans in 2016 and for the first time in 20 years brought them to the World Cup.
After this local success of the national team of Morocco for three qualifying rounds for the world championships, it was not possible to go to the final stage. Luck smiled at the Atlas Lions in the selection for the 1986 World Cup. In the first round in the play-offs against Sierra Leone, the Moroccans did not experience any particular difficulties, having won two victories (1: 0, 4: 0). In the second round, the Moroccan national team defeated their rivals in the face of the Malawi national team, again not passing (2: 0, 0: 0). The third stage against the Egyptian team turned out to be a copy of the second stage (0: 0, 2: 0). Having gone to the final stage, the Moroccan national football team met with the Libyan national team. In the first match in their field, “Atlas Lions” again did not miss, scoring with three times. In the second leg, the Moroccan national team lost with the score 0-1, conceding the first and the last goal in this selection. Morocco’s national team for the second time reached the final stage of the World Cup.
What is the start point?
Morocco team can be called unique. She is the second African team in history, which managed to break into the World Cup, and the first who managed to get out of the group at the very championship of the planet. In 1986, the Atlas Lions sensationally left behind the British, the Poles and the Portuguese, without losing a match. This series could well have been extended if Lothar Matthäus had not hit their goal in the 90th minute of the 1/8 final meeting (it is noteworthy that after the FRG team reached the final). In the last decade of the twentieth century, the Moroccans twice in a row participated in the world championships, but invariably ended the struggle in the group stage.
After success, the next selection for the 1990 World Cup turned out to be a failure for the Moroccan national team (the last place in the qualifying group). But after four years, “Atlas lions” managed to break through to the 1994 World Cup. In the first stage, the Atlas Lions in their group managed to take first place, beating the teams of Tunisia, Ethiopia and Benin. In the second stage (which was the final) the teams of Zambia and Senegal were in the same group as the Moroccans. Before the last round, the Moroccan national team had 4 points on the account, and the leading Zambian national team had 5 points. In the last round, these two teams figured out who is more worthy of a trip to the world championship. The Moroccans needed only a victory and they got it: the only goal decided, scored in the 62nd minute. The team of Morocco for the third time in its history produced a ticket to the world championship. Participation in the 2018 World Cup was the fifth team in history.
The classic problem of the Moroccan national team: the most talented players have to persuade them to defend the colors of their historic homeland. A significant part of the players of the national team has grown abroad. For example, the main star and their captain Mehdi Benatia – he is from France, never played in Morocco, but chose him. Now Benatiya is adored all over the country: after a major victory over Gabon in October, he went outside to celebrate this event with the fans.
With another star of the Moroccan national team, the attacker of “Ajax” Hakim Zieh, is a curious story. He was born in the Netherlands and for a long time could not decide who to represent in the international arena. Moroccans were more persistent: a couple of years ago, Zieh made his debut for the African team. The former striker and coach of the Netherlands national team Marco van Basten reacted to this: “It’s a stupid decision. It’s a shame that Hakim didn’t have enough patience and he chose Morocco.” New extreme defender of “Real” Ashraf Hakimi also plays for Morocco. He was barely 19, but from October 1, the young man regularly appears on the right flank of the Royal Club defense. Hakimi also has dual citizenship – he was born in Madrid and theoretically could play for the Spanish national team. But he decided not to repeat the mistakes of the pupil of “Barcelona” Munir El-Haddadi, who only once played for the Spaniards.
There are in the team of Morocco and our friends. Familiar defender Manuel da Costa and midfielder Mbark Bussoufa are more precisely. Both left a not very noticeable mark in the “Locomotive”, and the second is more memorable from the negative side. However, the fans, “Anji” Bussufa definitely remember a kind word.
Features of the Moroccan Football League
Moroccan national team became the second team from the Black continent, which, in principle, was able to get into the final of the World Cup. Before them, it was possible only to the Egyptian “Pharaohs”. At the same time, the Atlas Lions were the first representatives of Africa who were able to leave the group. But this happened only in 1986 at the World Cup in Mexico. Before that, in the same Mexico, but sixteen years earlier, the Moroccans failed miserably. In the group stage, with a score of 3: 2, they beat the German national team, suffered a major 0: 3 defeat against Peru, and only in the game with Bulgaria were they able to earn their first point on the world championships. As for the high point of the Atlas Lions, which happened in 1986, the path to the 1/8 finals promised to be very difficult. The fact is that the Moroccans were in a rather eminent group. Here they were confronted by teams of England, Poland and Portugal. As a result, the Africans were able to break up with the Poles and the British by a goalless draw, and then the Portuguese were beaten large – 3: 1. At the exit of the group – the “lions” were expected by the national team of the FRG. Match on the scoreboard was burning with zeros most of the time and only three minutes before the final whistle Lothar Herbert Matthäus deprived the Moroccans of hopes of getting into the quarterfinal. The 1994 Championships in the USA and 1998 in France were unsuccessful for the Moroccan national team: the team could not overcome the group stage, although they had such a chance on the French fields.
FUS Rabat is now one of the best clubs in Morocco and the main rival of the team Raja Casablanca
FUS Rabat fans hope that at least in their stadium their team will be able to achieve victory. There is no doubt that fans every time arrange strong support for their team. In the history of this confrontation FUS Rabat has decent results, winning five of the last ten matches, when there was only one defeat. More recently, FC FUS Rabat was in last place in the table of Moroccan teams, and there was no hope that it would be possible to escape. But after the head coach changed, the game of the outsider became much better, so that under his leadership, FC FUS Rabat had only one defeat. This made it possible to rise from the penultimate place and FC FUS Rabat even became one of the best clubs. The main thing is that the result of the replacement of the coaching staff lasted as long as possible then the owners will be able to rise even higher.
Botola: history and structure
The original Moroccan football championship was called the Morrocan Super League (Morrocan Super League), and, just before the 2008-2009 seasons the league was given the modern name – Botola. The structure of the championship has four league levels: Botola (16 teams), Botola 2 (16 teams), First Amateur League (GNFA 1 (2 groups of 16 teams)), Second Amateur League (GNFA 2 (4 groups of 16 teams)). The championship is held in two circles (30 games for each team). The teams that took the last two places leave the top division. The team that took third place in the championship gets the opportunity to present Morocco in the CAF Confederations Cup (the second most powerful club tournament in Africa). The champion and silver medalist represent Morocco in the main club tournament in Africa – the CAF Champions League.
In the entire history of the Morocco Football Championship, 17 clubs have won it. The largest number of champion titles at the club Wydad – 13. It is only on one trophy less than the club PAR has. 11 times the championship was won by the club Raja. 4 times champions were clubs Kenitra and MAS. By 2 championship trophies have Kawkab, Hassani, and Magreb clubs were in their collections for example, Khouribga, FUS, Racing, Renissance de Settat, Olympic, Muludia, KODM, Shabab, Raja Mellal and Etoile de Casablanca. The current champion is the Wydad Club.
In its history, the Moroccan Throne Cup has been won by 16 clubs. Also as for the situation with the national championship there is no clear leader in the number of victories in the tournament. At this time the number of victories in this tournament of the club “PAR” is 11. It’s only 2 wins less than the club Wydad has. Eight times the Moroccan Throne Cup was won by its current owner – the club “Raja”. Six victories in the tournament belong to clubs Kawkab Marrakech and “FUS”. Four times the success was celebrated by “Muludia” and “MAS”. Three times “Olympic” (Casablanca) won the cup. Two cups there are in the collection of the club “Olympic” (Khouribga). In times, the victory in the tournament was won by the Kenitra, RS, Shabab, KODM, Racing, Difaa and Majd clubs.
Clubs’ successes in international tournaments: Ittihad Tanger and others
For their history, Morocco’s football clubs often reached the final stages of Africa’s international football tournaments. Without victories, they certainly didn’t go off, but first things first. Let’s start with two tournaments, now no longer existing, namely the Cup winners of the Cup KAF and the Cup KAF. In the KAF Cup Winners Cup (the predecessor of the modern KAF Confederation Cup), two clubs managed to reach the finals: in 1997 the club “PAR” lost in the finals to Tunisian club Etoile do Sahel (0: 2, 1: 0), and in 2002 year, the club Wydad managed to win this trophy, beating the Ghanaian club “Asante Kotoko” (1: 0, 1: 2).
Wydad Casablanca – winner of the Cup Winners Cup CAF – 2002
In the KAF Cup, Moroccan clubs reached the final five times, but won only two. The first time it happened in 1996, when the club “Marrakesh” beat Tunisian “Etoile du Sahel” (1: 3, 2: 0), and already seven years later, in the last draw of this trophy, the club “Raja” turned out to be stronger than Camerounian Coton Sport “(2: 0, 0: 0)
Raja – winner of the Cup KAF – 2003
In 2004, two major tournaments (the KAF Cup and the KAF Cup Winners’ Cup) were combined into the KAF Confederation Cup. In this tournament, Moroccan clubs reached the finals four times (more than Tunisia alone – 8), taking a trophy in three of them. It happened in 2005 for the first time when the club “PAR” beat the Nigerian “Dolphin” in the final (0: 1, 3: 0).