(Bundesliga.com) Borussia Dortmund full-back Achraf Hakimi has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2018/19 season with a broken metatarsal.
The Morocco international was a second-half substitute in BVB’s dramatic late win over Wolfsburg on Matchday 27 as they retook top spot in the Bundesliga table ahead of Bayern Munich.
Hakimi, however, lasted just 25 minutes before he himself had to be replaced after damaging his right foot.
The 20-year-old, who has made 21 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund in the first season of his two-year loan from Real Madrid, has since undergone surgery on his damaged foot back in the Spanish capita. He will miss Borussia’s remaining seven league matches, including Saturday’s potential title-decider at Bayern.
As well as contributing two goals and four assists, Hakimi has proven a good-luck charm this season for his new club. Showing versatility to play at both right and left-back, he remained unbeaten in his first 17 Bundesliga appearances and has in fact lost just one of his 21 games in the German top flight.
It’s a blow to Lucien Favre’s side ahead of Der Klassiker after Hakimi himself came on for injured left-back Abdou Diallo. The Swiss coach already had issues in defence with right-back Lukasz Piszczek absent for several weeks with a heel injury. Former first-choice left-back Marcel Schmelzer has featured just 11 times this season, and may be needed at the Allianz Arena for his first league appearance since January.
(Morocco World News) After four decades without senior continental glory, is Morocco’s national squad finally ready to claim continental dominance at the Africa Cup of Nations?
Rabat – Moroccan football is “ambitious” and now has the squad it has been asking for for years.
The upbeat assessment came from an equally upbeat Fouzi Lekjaa, president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation. Lekjaa was speaking to Moroccan Radio Mars just hours after winning the title of the best African football federation president.
In the radio interview, Lekjaa laid out Morocco’s ambitions as its Atlas Lions grow in confidence and beauty.
Despite early elimination at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Morocco’s national team won plaudits for the quality of their game, especially the attacking philosophy they have been displaying under the guidance of coach Herve Renard.
Based on the team’s World Cup quality and recent displays in the CAN qualifiers, Lekjaa argued, “it would be natural if Morocco won this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (CAN).”
Despite being generally voted among Africa’s best football teams, the Atlas Lions’ history is still wanting. The country only has one continental crown to its name.
Morocco won the 10th CAN in 1976 in Ethiopia. The closest the country came to reliving that 1976 glory was in 2004, when hosts Tunisia beat Morocco 2-1 in the final. Since then, continental glory has eluded Morocco’s team, with the squad struggling to even reach the semi-final stages.
While Moroccan clubs—mainly Wydad and Raja—have been performing well at the continental level, it will take a CAN victory to usher Morocco into a position of continental prominence in football.
For Lekjaa, the current quality suggests that Renard and his renaissance boys can right decades of trophy drought. He suggested that Morocco’s “ambition to win is legitimate given the quality of their game.”
CAN 2019 will be held in Egypt from June 15 to July 13. The continental showpiece will this year count 24 teams, up from 16 in past tournaments.
(BBC Sports) Morocco will not bid to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the country's sports minister said.
The North African nation had been tipped as a replacement for Cameroon, who were stripped of the hosting rights last month due to poor preparations.
"Morocco did not intend to run for the 2019 African Cup of Nations and will not do so," Minister of Youth and Sport Rachid Talbi Alami told AFP.
Interested parties have until 2200 GMT on Friday to make an official bid.
In June this year, Morocco failed with a fifth bid to host the World Cup - after losing out to a triple bid Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The following month, Morocco did step in to host the 2019 African Games - formerly known as the All Africa Games - after original hosts Equatorial Guinea withdrew due to financial concerns.
This was a twist on a story concerning the 2015 Nations Cup which Morocco had been due to host but which ended up being staged in Equatorial Guinea after the North Africans requested a postponement because of concerns over the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Morocco - which had been widely tipped to step in to host next year's Nations Cup - has only ever hosted Africa's flagship football tournament once, back in 1988.
The 2019 finals will be the first to feature 24 teams, rather than 16, and be held in June/July, as opposed to its traditional January/February slot.
(BBC Sports) The Confederation of African Football's (Caf) executive committee will hold an extraordinary meeting on 9 January to choose new hosts for the 2019 Nations Cup.
Caf is looking for a new venue for the continental tournament after it stripped Cameroon of the hosting rights due to a lack of progress with preparations.
Countries have until 2200GMT on 14 December to submit official bids to host the 24-team tournament which begins in June next year.
Despite reports of interest from Morocco and Congo-Brazzaville no-one has made an official declaration of interest to host the event.
The South Africa Football Association (Safa) is planning a meeting with country's sports minister Tokozile Xasa on Tuesday in order to make a decision on making a bid.
Xasa has expressed an interest in South Africa hosting the event for a third time but admitted she needed more details from Safe before finalising the offer.
(Goal.com) South African Football's mother body has explained to Goal why hosting the Afcon is difficult, but they might reconsider with incentives
The South Africa Football Association (Safa) has responded to reports that they could be in line to host the upcoming 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
On Friday, Caf confirmed its decision to strip Cameroon of hosting rights ahead of the showpiece event after it was deemed that they would not be ready in time for the event.
This immediately sent speculation into overdrive that Morocco, Egypt and South Africa could step in at the last minute to take over as hosts.
Nonetheless, Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi has spoken to Goal about the possibility of hosting the event.
“We also seen those reports and don’t forget that the Safa president is also an executive member of Caf,” Chimhavi told Goal on Saturday.
“But as things stand, our position is that we need liaise with the minister, we need to liaise with Caf themselves, because the short space of time, the bidding process is going to be changed.
“So, we want to find out what are the bidding processes,” he added.
While Chimhavi admits that South Africa are in an ideal position to host the Afcon, he has revealed that Safa’s financial woes may prove to be a stumbling block.
So, as things stand are we interested in hosting the Africa Cup of Nations 2019,?" Chimhavi quizzed.
“With our financial situation no,” an honest Chimhavi revealed.
“But if Caf comes up with certain incentives to say we are going to look after everything and we just provide the venue, I think we can host,” he said.
“Our financial situation doesn’t allow us to host. But we also have to talk to the government, so at the moment nothing has been decided as yet,” Safa’s spokesperson stated.
“We will see what Caf comes with and we will also liaise with government to see if they are interested in bankrolling this project. But you know in recent times the government has been saying, we need to exercise the tightening of the belt,” he continued.
“We have the capacity. South Africa is the only country that can host the event tomorrow. We have the capacity to host a 24-team Africa Cup of Nations, but as I say, the financial unfitness might put to bed any attempt because we don’t have the money,” he concluded.
Cameroon has been stripped of the right to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after serious delays with its preparations and in the midst of a violent separatist rebellion near two of the planned venues.
The country's status as hosts of AFCON has been in doubt for the last few months since the decision was made to increase the tournament from 16 to 24 teams.
The Confederation of African Football will now give a one month window to countries interested in hosting the tournament and official bids will be submitted and considered.
Morocco, who were unsuccessful in their bid for the 2026 Fifa World Cup, are most likely to replace Cameroon as hosts. South Africa, hosts of the 2010 World Cup, could also be a viable option for CAF.
CAF said in September that there was a 'significant delay' with the building of stadiums and related infrastructure but gave Cameroon a final chance by planning two more inspection visits in October.
One of those was to assess the security situation after an escalation in violence in the southwest and northwest of the country involving English-speaking separatists and government forces.
And the decision was taken in an extraodrinary meeting on Friday afternoon where CAF president Ahmed Ahmed faced the media to explain why the decision has been taken to put the tournament back on the market for official bids.
This will be the second time in recent memory that CAF has stripped a country of hosting rights of a continental tournament.
Kenya was declared unfit to host the 2018 Africa Nations Championships in January this year with Morocco stepping in as the replacement host.
The young Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi has had an excellent start to his career in the Premier League, and last week he enhanced his reputation with a brilliant showing for the France Under 21 side, but as his father is half French and half-Moroccan he is also eligible to play for the North African side.
But now that Morocco have qualified for the finals of the African Nations Cup next summer, the coach of the Atlas Lions, Herve Renard, is desperate for the Arsenal youngster to switch allegiance to Morocco. This is how StarAfrica.com reported it this morning…..
Mattéo Guendouzi participated for the first time with the France U21s against Croatia last Thursday (2-2). And although he plays for the selections of Les Bleus, Morocco does not lose hope to persuade the youngster, according to L’Equipe.
The Atlas Lions coach, Hervé Renard, would like to see the Arsenal player join his group, in view of the ACN 2019. He has once again made it known after the qualification of his team at the finals in beating Cameroon (2-0) on Friday.
The problem is that the player has given his first acceptance to Les Bleus. Can the ACN be a sufficient argument to change his mind?
(BBC Sports) Morocco qualified for next year's Africa Cup of Nations without kicking a ball on Saturday as Comoros beat Malawi 2-1.
The Atlas Lions qualify with a game to spare after beating Cameroon 2-0 on Friday in Casablanca.
Hakim Ziyech scored twice to condemn the African champions to their first defeat under Clarence Seedorf.
"Congratulations to players and staff for this brilliant qualification," tweeted Morocco coach Herve Renard.
The final round of Group B games take place in March, with Cameroon assured their place as Nations Cup hosts.
The Indomitable Lions are participating in the qualifiers to ensure competitive match practice and they sit second in the group with 8 points, two fewer than Morocco, while Comoros rise to five points, one more than Malawi.
The win is only the third for Comoros in Nations Cup qualifying history, following on from victory over Mauritius in the 2019 preliminary phase as well as a 1-0 win over Botswana in 2017 qualifying.
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.