Five things to know about Morocco
In the only competition on American soil, Morocco recorded a 1-0 victory in Nashville on May 23, 2006, in the first of three USMNT warm-up matches leading up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Mohamed Madihi’s 90th-minute goal past Keller proved to be the difference.
Unfortunately, USMNT defender Cory Gibbs (pictured above) suffered a knee injury during the game which forced him off the final World Cup roster. The centre-back was current USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Originally from Bosnia and former Yugoslavian international striker, Vahid Halilhodzic has led Morocco since August 15, 2019.
Halilhodzic scored 211 goals in 406 games for Velež Mostar (Bosnia), Neretva (Croatia), Nantes and Paris St-Germain during a 17-year playing career. He added eight goals in 15 games for Yugoslavia, including two substitute appearances in the 1982 World Cup.
During a 29-year coaching career, the 69-year-old has managed club teams in Morocco (Raja Casablanca), France (Lille, Rennes, Paris St-Germain and Nantes), Turkey (Trabzonspor ), Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) and Croatia (Dinamo Zagreb). Morocco is the fourth different nation it has managed to play in a World Cup, along with Ivory Coast (2010), Algeria (2014) and Japan (2018)
Halilhodzic is 21-1-8 while in charge of the Atlas lions.
Morocco finished unbeaten at 7-0-1 in their FIFA World Cup qualifying run. In the second round of the CAF qualifiers, they finished top of Group I with a perfect 6-0-0 record while beating their opponents, 20-1.
In the qualifying playoff, Morocco drew 1-1 against DR Congo, equalizing on Tarik Tissoudali’s tally in the 76th minute on March 25. Four days later they left no doubt, registering a 4-1 triumph to claim on aggregate. series, 5-2 and book a place in Qatar. Azzedine Ounahi scored twice (21st and 54th minutes) with Tarik Tissoudali (seven minutes after the start of first-half stoppage time) and Achraf Hakimi adding goals.
Ayoub El Kaabi led the way with five qualifying goals, followed by Ryan Mmaee with four.
Between the WCQ group stage and the final round, Morocco participated in the Africa Cup of Nations, reaching the round of 16 with a 2-0-1 record. The team beat Malawi, 2-1 in the round of 16 on January 25, as Youssef En-Nesyri (penalty kick two minutes after the injury in the first half) and Achraf Hakimi (winner in the 70th minute) scored goals. In the quarter-finals, Morocco could not maintain a seventh-minute lead on Sofiane Boufal’s penalty and lost in extra time to Egypt, 2-1, on 25 January.
Vahid Halilhodzic has summoned a list of 27 mainly Europe-based players for the June window. Only two players compete at national level – goalkeeper Anas Zniti (Raja Casablanca) and defender Yahia Attiyat Allah (Wydad Casablanca).
The Atlas lions have a decent mix of veterans and young players.
Striker Youssef En-Nesyri, one of three Sevillian players in the squad, is the team’s top scorer with 12 goals in 48 appearances. Yassine Bounou (40 caps), Sevilla goalkeeper, was vice-captain during qualifying. Forward Munir El Haddadi is Sevilla’s third player.
Team captain and defender Romain Saiss, 32, the most experienced member of the team, plays for Wolverhampton Wanderers (England).
Paris St-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi has excelled on both sides of the ball (eight goals in 48 appearances).
Defender Noussair Mazraoui signed a four-year contract with Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich on May 24 on a free transfer after playing for Ajax (Netherlands).
Hatayspor (Turkey) is represented by two players – striker Ayoub El Kaabi and goalkeeper Munir El Kajou.
DETAILED LIST BY POSITION
Guardians (3): Yassine Bounou (Sevilla/ESP; 40/0), Munir El Kajou (Hatayspor/TUR; 43/0), Anas Zniti (Raja Casablanca; 5/0)
Defenders (10): Nayef Aguerd (Rennes/FRA; 19/1), Sofiane Alakouch (Metz/FRA; 3/0), Yahia Attiyat Allah (Wydad Casablanca; 1/0), Sofian Chakla (OH Louvain/BEL; 4/0), Jawad El Yamiq (Valladolid/ESP; 11/2), Achraf Hakimi (Paris St-Germain/FRA; 48/8), Adam Masina (Watford/ENG; 14/0), Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich/GER; 7/2 ), Samy Mmaee (Ferencvaros/HUN; 8/0), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton/ENG; 60/1)
Midfielders (7): Selim Amallah (Standard Liège/BEL; 17/4), Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina/ITA; 34/0), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 17/1), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers/ANG; 8/1 ), Faycal Fajr (Sivasspor / TUR; 48/3), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers / FRA; 4/2), Adel Taarabt (Benfica / POR; 29/4),
Forwards (7): Zakaria Aboukhlal (AZ Alkmaar/NED; 10/2), Ayoub El Kaabi (Hatayspor/TUR; 20/7), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla/ESP; 45/12), Munir El Haddadi (Sevilla/ESP; 11/ 2), Amine Harit (Marseille/FRA; 11/0), Soufiane Rahimi (Al-Ain/UAE; 4/0), Tarik Tissoudali (Ghent/BEL; 6/2)