The Atlas Lions will have their work cut out from next month. The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has announced the scheduling of three matches in June, which leaves little time for Vahid Halilhodzic’s men to prepare amidst an uncertain atmosphere between the departure of the coach, the return of some banned and injured, including that of Sofiane Boufal. Will the national team be ready in time?
After qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in March, the Atlas Lions are back in action, with 3 matches on the program, including a friendly preparation for the World Cup and two others counting for the World Cup qualifiers. of Nations (CAN) 2023 which will take place in Côte d’Ivoire.
First, the Moroccan selection will cross swords with that of the United States in the context of a friendly match on the sidelines of preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The match will take place on June 1, 2022, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As for the CAN 2023 qualifiers, Vahid Halilhodzic’s men will have a first meeting to play with the South African team on Thursday June 09, 2022 at the Prince Moulay Abdallah Sports Complex in Rabat.
The second round match of the same qualifiers between the Atlas Lions and the Liberian national team will take place on the lawn of the Mohammed V Sports Complex in Casablanca on Monday, June 13, 2022.
Vahid Halilhodzic, who has been the subject of numerous departure rumours, will reveal his list of players summoned next week, a few days before the start of the rally. The latter will begin on the 30th of the same month at the Mohammed VI Complex in Maâmora.
A list that could hold many surprises, especially with the likely return of Noussair Mazraoui. Indeed, the Bosnian technician met the future player of Bayern Munich in Amsterdam to try to convince him to return to the national team after having announced his decision not to participate in the play-offs of the World Cup.
The two men posed together with the flag of Morocco, which suggests that the Moroccan international has decided to return to the national team.
Judging by the images of Mazraoui and Halilhodzic posing behind a Moroccan flag, the reconciliation has been confirmed. This seems to pave the way for the return of the 24-year-old player who announced a few months ago that he would not be returning, pointing to the coach’s lack of consideration for him.
Returns and arrivals
This meeting comes after a meeting between the Bosnian and the leaders of the FRMF to try to find common ground between the maintenance of the coach and the return of “banned” players, like Hakim Ziyech and Amine Harit who should be the next to meet Vahid to qualify for a place in the CAN 2023 qualifiers but also be part of the trip to Qatar.
It would seem likely that the coach will call on new faces. The president of the FRMF, Fouzi Lekjaâ had already announced that he was in contact with many dual nationals, including Mohamed Ali-Cho, Sofiane Diop and Amine Adli, who play respectively in Angers, Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen.
“The dual nationals are Moroccan. We had contact with Sofiane Diop (Monaco), Amine Adli (Bayer Leverkusen) and Mohamed Ali Cho (Angers)”he said.
However, a delicate situation could hamper the coach’s plans, that of the injury of Sofiane Boufal, who has become a key player for Mountakhab.
The member of Angers was forced to end his season after suffering a hamstring injury. The player is still awaiting further examinations and may well miss the next Atlas Lions fixtures although he has already returned to training as he showed on his social media.
For now, Vahid should count on many players who have qualified Morocco for the World Cup like pioneers such as Romain Saiss or Achraf Hakimi or the revelations of the last deadlines like Azzedine Ounahi or even Tarik Tissoudali.