Etiquettes : Morocco, football, binationals,
In a few weeks, Morocco formalized the arrivals of several binational players. A success in this area which is the fruit of a lot of work by the Moroccan federation for several years now.
In recent years, the dual national war has raged between European and African nations. The federations are competing for players earlier and earlier and on the African continent, one country stands out on this subject: Morocco . For many years, the Atlas Lions have developed an effective strategy to attract dual nationals and thus strengthen their teams in all categories. And in recent days, the semi-finalist of the last World Cup in Qatar has hit hard again by attracting several names. In addition to Amine Adli , Espoir striker of the French team, who chose to play for Morocco a few months ago, the FRMF also welcomed Sofiane Diop , striker from Nice. In the U23 categories, Morocco also stole the U19 captain of Spain Ilias Akhomach and the young nugget of PSG Ilyes Housni . The only failure for Morocco, and not the least, it is true, remains the case of Lamine Yamal who decided to play for La Roja.
The exception which confirms the rule as Morocco has become even more attractive than certain European selections. It must be said that the means are available to be convincing. First of all, sportingly. The recent run of Walid Regragui’s men at the World Cup showed that it was possible to dream big by joining the Atlas Lions. And that inevitably attracts players who can say to themselves that they will be able to compete in a World Cup and be competitive in this competition. And Morocco’s excellent performance has also convinced other players to join other selections. “It’s true that when I saw Morocco at the World Cup, it made me think. I said to myself: “Why not me with Algeria?”” Amine Gouiri recently confided to the daily l’Équipe to explain his choice to play for the Fennecs.
XXL conditions, very early contacts
To have serious arguments when convincing certain players, Morocco decided to start early, very early. And it was one of the first countries in Africa, if not the first, to come into contact with players from a very young age. The Moroccan federation, through its various scouts, does not hesitate to make initial contacts to present a project. Enough to also convince those around the players of the seriousness of the steps. And above all, the players are monitored on a daily basis to establish a relationship of trust. And this is bearing fruit since now, some young people do not hesitate to snub selections like Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands or Italy to join the youth categories of Morocco from the U15/U17.
Another argument that works in Morocco’s favor: its infrastructure. On the orders of King Mohammed 6, the Moroccan federation had invested a large budget to build a center worthy of the biggest clubs in the world. And the Maamora technical center, impressively modern, allows players to be in excellent conditions when they join the national team. “In Morocco, they have the best technical center in the world. Widely. It’s phenomenal. The grounds, the medical, the hotel, the swimming pool, the restaurant… it’s five times better than at Clairefontaine ,” explained former coach Vahid Halilhodzic in an interview for So Foot . Same story for Sadio Mané who had spent a few days training in this center. “Honestly, I am amazed by this technical center. It must be seen by everyone. That’s wonderful. I didn’t know we had this kind of complex in Africa. Morocco has nothing to envy of other countries. I was pleasantly and exceptionally surprised by what I just saw. I’ve played in a lot of big clubs and I’ve never seen that. »
A real link between all categories
A few years ago, to convince certain players to join them, Morocco decided to call them up directly to the first team where the European selections, much more armed, kept them in the youth team. For some time now, Morocco has insisted on sending players to the lower categories first and creating a form of continuity. The case of Ismael Bennacer had also clearly illustrated this risky policy in the short term but beneficial in the long term. Before he exploded to the highest level, the AC Milan midfielder was close to representing Morocco, his father’s country. But while the Atlas Lions initially suggested that he join the U23s, he was summoned directly to A by Algeria, which convinced him. But for one failure, there are ten successes, because Morocco managed to convince by presenting a clear and structured project, sometimes directly sending the president of the FRMF Faouzi Lekjaa or Walid Regragui to negotiate.
From now on, young people do not hesitate to move to the U17/U20/U23 teams, because they know what a gateway to the A team is. Morocco was also inspired by the French model and the link strong between the A and the Espoirs. Recent proof, several players from the Moroccan team winning the CAN U23 (in 2023) immediately joined the A team (Amir Richardson, coveted by France in youth and the USA, Ismael Saibari, Oussama El Azzouzi to not quote only them). Proof that the door is open. And inevitably, when it goes well, the feedback is necessarily good and this can convince other players. Before deciding to give up wearing the Spain jersey, Ilias Akhomach (Villarreal, U19 captain of Spain) spoke a lot with his close friends Chadi Riad (Betis, trained at Barça) and Omar El Hilali (Espanyol). The two players who play for Morocco have repeatedly called out their friend, especially at the time of the final coronation during the U23 CAN. This could also have been the case of Lamine Yamal close to Adam Aznou (Bayern Munich) who opted for Morocco. But the rising star of FC Barcelona chose Spain. The choice also of his mother, who manages his interests and who pushed for her son to choose La Roja, particularly for questions of negotiating large contracts with certain brands. In the coming months, other players could arrive under the colors of Morocco while the FRMF has never hidden the possibility of discussing with Brahim Diaz (Real Madrid, Eliesse Ben Seghir (Monaco) or Mohamed-Ali Cho (Real Sociedad )
Foot Mercato, 15/11/2023
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