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The Atlas Lions

Les Lions de l'Atlas

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By The Atlas Lions, Nov 17 2018 04:44PM

( The 2-0 defeat by Morocco on Friday pushed further into spotlight the Dutchman's unimpressive reign as the Indomitable Lions coach

Clarence Seedorf feels that the opening goal that Cameroon conceded against Morocco was the defining moment that marked his first defeat since he took over the reins as the Indomitable Lions Manager, three months ago.

Morocco opened a two-point lead at the top of Group B in the ongoing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier following a home victory at Casablanca on Friday.

Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Hakim Ziyech struck a brace in the second half, starting by converting from the spot, after Christian Bassogog had been adjudged to have pushed substitute Sofiane Boufal inside the box.

Ziyech went on to complete his double in the 65th minute, leaving Cameroon with a tall order of staging a comeback, but Seedorf feels it was the penalty that changed the complexion of the game.

“I didn’t argue with the referee because it was useless to do so,” Seedorf said at the post-match news conference.

“I have nothing much to say about that (penalty). I think everyone witnessed what happened and write what you saw.

“For us, the match is over. Morocco played a good game, Cameroon also played a good game but then episodes can change games like what happened today (Friday).”

By The Atlas Lions, Nov 17 2018 10:25AM

( Former AFC Ajax manager Peter Bosz has tipped African stars Hakim Ziyech and Andre Onana to leave the Eredivisie club at the end of the current season.

Both Onana (Cameroon) and Ziyech (Morocco) have become key players for the Amsterdam club, with the former the number one choice in goal, while the latter is a vital part of their attacking force and even won the Dutch top flight’s player of the month accolade in October.

Onana, 22, has been on Ajax’s books since early 2015 and is contracted to June 2021, while Ziyech, 25, has been at the club since August 2016 and is also contracted to the middle of 2021.

Bosz, who was in charge of Ajax in the 2016/17 season and led the club to the final of the UEFA Europa League, believes Ziyech and Onana, as well as rising stars Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, will not be a part of the Dutch club from next season.

"I see Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech leaving Ajax next summer," he told Voetball International.

He also added that "Andre Onana will possibly go as well" in reference to the former Barcelona goalkeeper.

Ajax teammates Onana and Ziyech were ironically in opposite camps on Friday night as Morocco hosted Cameroon in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Casablanca.

By The Atlas Lions, Nov 16 2018 09:38PM

( Morocco have moved to the verge of qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after they defeated Cameroon 2-0 at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Friday night.

The result saw the Atlas Lions surge to the top of Group B on 10 points and avenge a 1-0 loss to the West African giants from the teams’ first meeting in Yaounde in June last year.

Hakim Ziyech was the match winner for Morocco, who will secure qualification if Malawi fail to defeat Comoros in Moroni on Saturday afternoon.

The Indomitable Lions, meanwhile, are guaranteed their berth at the finals due to the status as the host nation, but will be worried at another disappointing result under coach Clarence Seedorf.

Cameroon created the first opening to put Eric Choupo-Moting in shooting space in the seventh minute, but the French-based player was unable to find the target as Karim El Ahmadi closed him down quickly.

Morocco gradually gained control of the game and much of their play was directed through Hakim Ziyech. The Ajax attacking midfielder went close with a couple of efforts from long range, but wasn’t quite able to get the better of his club teammate, Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana.

At the other end of the field, the Atlas Lions needed gloves-man Yassibe Bounou to be sharp in keeping out an effort from Karl Toko Ekambi in the 28th minute. The West Africans saw less of the ball but were dangerous on the counter attack.

The best chance of the first half went the way of Ziyech in the 45th minute, but after being played in on goal by Younes Belhanda he only managed to shoot straight at Onana, leaving the game locked at 0-0 heading into the interval.

Morocco made a change at the start of the second half, sending on Sofiane Boufal for the injured Belhanda. The move paid dividends just seven minutes after the restart as the Celta Vigo player earned a penalty for a push in the back.

Ziyech duly dispatched the spot kick to give Herve Renard’s team a deserved lead in the 54th minute, and the 25-year-old was on hand again 12 minutes later as he sent a dipping, left-footed shot beyond Onana to double the hosts’ advantage.

The Indomitable Lions looked for a way back into the game and upped the pressure in attack, but they were controversially reduced to 10 men in the 79th minute when Toko Ekambi received a second yellow card.

His second caution was for diving, though it appeared as if there was contact with Moroccan defender Manuel da Costa. Regardless, it took the sting out of Cameroon’s intent and allowed the hosts to see out a relatively comfortable victory.

Morocco (0) 2 (Ziyech 54’ pen 66’)

Cameroon 0

Morocc: Bounou, Hakimi, Benatia, da Costa, Mazraoui, El Ahmadi, Amrabat, Ziyech (Ait Bennasser 90’), Belhanda (Boufal 46’), Fajr, Boutaib (En-Nesyri 65’)

Cameroon: Onana, Fai, Onguene, Bong, Kunde (Djoum 82’), Bassogog (Bahoken 70’), Zambo Anguissa, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Madjeck (N’Jie 68’), Choupo-Moting, Toko Ekambi

By The Atlas Lions, Nov 12 2018 08:46AM

The Morocco international extended his goalscoring run in the Dutch Eredivisie with an effort at the Van Donge & De Roo Stadion

Hakim Ziyech contributed a goal and an assist as Ajax thrashed Excelsior 7-1 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old maintained his fine form for the Johan Cruyff Arena outfit with his fifth goal in his last six league outings.

In the 79th minute, the Atlas Lions’ playmaker benefitted from Nicolas Tagliafico's assist to register his seventh league goal of the season before setting David Neres up for Ajax's last goal in the encounter.

Ziyech, Noussair Mazraoui and Andre Onana who made Goal Africa Team of the Month for October were on parade for Erik ten Hag's men as they help extend the unbeaten run to 11 games across all competitions.

Ajax, placed second in the Dutch top-flight standings, continue to pile pressure on leaders PSV.

By The Atlas Lions, Nov 9 2018 07:45AM

Around 5 years ago, nobody would have expected Morocco to qualify for the world cup. Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire were the powerhouses of African football, possessing the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba, but as time progressed the Moroccans have slowly established a competitive squad. Part of the reason for their recent success has been the emergence of young Moroccan players in Europe's top flight leagues.

Achraf Hakimi, born in Madrid, joined Real Madrid's youth set-up at the tender age of 8 and made his professional debut for the club 11 years later. Zinedine Zidane decided to call up the youngster to the Los Blancos squad as a backup for Dani Carvajal, and he quickly impressed all with his defensive skills when needed. The 20-year-old is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund, where he already has 3 assists.

Hakim Ziyech, a more prominent Moroccan player, has graced the Eredivisie with his presence. The Dutch-Moroccan player rose through Heerenveen's youth academy before going on to be a vital player in the first team. Just 25 years old, Ziyech is already one of Ajax's star players, scoring 22 goals in just over 70 club appearances.

Another Moroccan rising through Ajax's first team set-up is Noussair Mazraoui. Born in Liederdrop, Mazraoui made over 50 appearances for Jong Ajax (Ajax's youth team) before breaking into the professional squad. This season, Mazraoui has become the club's starting right-back and has even gone on to score a goal against Benfica in the Champions League.

Although not very young in terms of a footballing career, the center-back duo of Romain Saïss and Medhi Benatia have been tearing it up in Europe. Saïss roamed around France, representing Le Havre and Angers SCO before becoming an integral part of Wolverhampton Wanderer's EFL Championship win and promotion to the Premier League.

Benatia, on the other hand, racked up just about 80 appearances for Udinese before spells at Roma, Bayern Munich, and Juventus established him as one of the world's best defenders.

Head coach Hervé Renard certainly has a lot of potential and experienced players at his disposal, and the Moroccan team should be strong contenders for next year's Africa Cup of Nation tournament in Cameroon.

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