The consistent quality of defender Achraf Hakimi could be crucial to Morocco’s chances at the World Cup this time around.
A look back at the World Cup: 5
Best finish: Episode 16 (1986)
World Cup History: W2 L9 D5
Big win: 3-0 vs Scotland (1998)
Player to watch: Achraf Hakimi
Updates: Croatia (November 23), Belgium (November 27) and Canada (December 1)
Ranked 22nd in FIFA’s rankings, the North African nation’s 26-man squad is looking to make its sixth World Cup appearance a memorable one and shake off the label of perennial underachievers.
Despite the amount of undoubted talent the Atlas Lions have always had, they have only made it past the top 16 in one of their five games.
This was in 1986 – and no member of the team was born then.
However, the squad appears to be loaded with talent, many of whom play in Europe’s top leagues. And he’s looking to change that bad reputation.
In August, when former Moroccan Walid Regragui took over as manager of Atlas Lions, he recalled star player Hakim Ziyech, who was dismissed from the team by manager Vahid Halilhodžić, to join the team.
The idea would be wise if Ziyech, who has not yet appeared for his Chelsea team, in the English top flight, can recreate the magic that made him a favorite at his former club Ajax Amsterdam and earned him respect in the game. world level.
But it is right-back specialist Achraf Hakimi, who many can look to, to power Morocco, Africa’s second-highest team in world football, to perform well this season.
His inconsistency with the national team and his clubs – Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Paris Saint Germain – over the past three years has been well known, as have some of his colleagues this year.
Hakimi’s bombs down the flanks and direct crosses will be the key to a brilliant attack by Ziyech, Sofiane Boufal, and Youssef En-Nesyri as they navigate one of the toughest teams in the competition.
If they both click and repeat their form of losing once in their last eight games, they could have a chance to upset Qatar.
On Thursday, the team got a taste of what’s to come with a 3-0 loss to Georgia, with one goal to the front three. The highlight was the second, a sensational goal from the half of the Moroccan game by Ziyech.
Their friends – all 37 million of them – will be hoping for the same inspired performances from November 23 when the team will face Croatia, and after that.