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U17 WORLD CUP

Morocco’s ambitious talents ready to shine

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Morocco will be making their second appearance on the global stage when the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023™ gets under way in Indonesia this November.

The North Africans find themselves in a challenging group alongside host nation Indonesia, Ecuador and Panama.

Despite that, coach Said Chiba’s side have high hopes of advancing to the knockout phase, given their impressive performance last May during the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria.

How did Morocco qualify?

The Atlas Cubs secured their place at the U-17 World Cup by finishing runners-up at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, which was held in Algeria earlier this year. Morocco topped their group, which included Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, with six points, before defeating hosts Algeria 3-0 in the quarters and Mali in the semis after a penalty shootout. They would eventually go down 2-1 to Senegal in the final, despite leading until the 80th minute.

The coach: Said Chiba

Said Chiba enjoyed a distinguished playing career, including winning more than 40 caps for Morocco, before moving to the dugout. He started his coaching journey at Qatar Sports Club and then worked as Ezzaki Badou’s assistant with the Morocco senior team. He later had spells with Moroccan clubs Chabab Rif Al-Hoceima, Nahdat Zemamra and Olympique Safi before assuming his current role.

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Said Chiba has demonstrated exceptional skill when it comes to nurturing young players, shielding them from pressure during the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria, and guiding his team to the final with insightful tactics. He has also managed to deftly combine local talents with those coming from Europe, forming a well-balanced and physically adept team poised to make an impact in Indonesia.

One to watch: Taha Benrhozil

The Atlas Cubs boast a wide pool of emerging talents who could soon feature prominently in the senior national team. Players like defender Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal and striker Zakaria Ouazane have been generating quite a buzz, as has goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil. The latter has consistently been showcasing his skills with the national team and played a pivotal role in their U-17 World Cup qualification, particularly during the thrilling penalty shootout triumph over Mali in the semi-finals.

Despite his youth, this Mohammed VI Academy player possesses exceptional composure and quick reflexes, and Said Chiba will almost certainly be calling on him to safeguard Morocco’s goal in Indonesia.

Morocco’s record at the FIFA U-17 World Cup

Morocco have participated in the U-17 World Cup only once before, in 2013. During that edition, they topped a group including Uzbekistan, Croatia and Panama (who they will face again in this edition). They bowed out in the round of 16 after succumbing to Côte d’Ivoire.

Did you know?

Sofyan Amrabat and Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti both represented Morocco at the U-17 World Cup a decade ago. The pair went on to feature at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and played pivotal roles in the Atlas Lions’ historic semi-final qualification – a landmark achievement for African and Arab football.

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Morocco’s U-17 World Cup Group A fixtures

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Under-17 World Cups to be held every year, says FIFA

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The FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be held annually instead of biennially, with the next five editions from 2025 to take place in Qatar, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

Like the senior men’s World Cup, the Under-17 tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, FIFA said.

The women’s Under-17 World Cup will also be played annually from 2025, with Morocco hosting an expanded 24-team event until 2029. The 2022 edition had 16 teams.

“This followed a global call for expressions of interest in hosting both competitions, with a focus on leveraging the use of existing footballing infrastructure in the interest of tournament efficiencies and sustainability,” FIFA said.

The last men’s Under-17 World Cup was held in 2023 with Germany winning their first title. Spain won the women’s edition in 2022.

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Qatar hosted the 2022 senior men’s World Cup in winter while Morocco are one of the co-hosts for the 2030 edition.

FIFA also said a record $2.25 billion had been earmarked for the 2023-2026 cycle for investment in football development.

“Thanks to its solid financial governance, FIFA is well on track to exceed its budgetary target of $11 billion for the 2023-2026 cycle,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at the FIFA Council meeting.

Infantino also called for the imposition of stricter measures to combat racism. Last month, he called for teams to face automatic defeat if their fans displayed racist behaviour.

“The 74th FIFA Congress will mark a milestone in FIFA’s ongoing efforts to fight racism with new and stricter measures to be applied worldwide in cooperation with all our member associations and the confederations,” Infantino added.

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Under-17 World Cups to be held every year, says FIFA –

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bf5f50d9-fifa.jpg

The FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be held annually instead of biennially, with the next five editions from 2025 to take place in Qatar, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

Like the senior men’s World Cup, the Under-17 tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, FIFA said.

The women’s Under-17 World Cup will also be played annually from 2025, with Morocco hosting an expanded 24-team event until 2029. The 2022 edition had 16 teams.

“This followed a global call for expressions of interest in hosting both competitions, with a focus on leveraging the use of existing footballing infrastructure in the interest of tournament efficiencies and sustainability,” FIFA said.

The last men’s Under-17 World Cup was held in 2023 with Germany winning their first title. Spain won the women’s edition in 2022.

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Qatar hosted the 2022 senior men’s World Cup in winter while Morocco are one of the co-hosts for the 2030 edition.

FIFA also said a record $2.25 billion had been earmarked for the 2023-2026 cycle for investment in football development.

“Thanks to its solid financial governance, FIFA is well on track to exceed its budgetary target of $11 billion for the 2023-2026 cycle,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at the FIFA Council meeting.

Infantino also called for the imposition of stricter measures to combat racism. Last month, he called for teams to face automatic defeat if their fans displayed racist behaviour.

“The 74th FIFA Congress will mark a milestone in FIFA’s ongoing efforts to fight racism with new and stricter measures to be applied worldwide in cooperation with all our member associations and the confederations,” Infantino added.

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U17 WORLD CUP

Magnificent Mali pummel Argentina to win U17 World Cup bronze

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Hamidou Makalou scored an incredible individual goal as Mali swept aside Argentina to clinch the bronze medal at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Ibrahim Diarra and Mamadou Doumbia were also on target for the dominant African side in Surakarta.

The outstanding Diarra – unquestionably one of the stars of Indonesia 2023 – opened the scoring on nine minutes. The Mali captain expertly controlled a lofted pass from Sekou Kone then placed a precision strike into the bottom corner.

Mali continued to control the game and got the second goal their efforts deserved on the stroke of half-time. Makalou was the creator, with his free-kick delivery headed home by Doumbia.

Mali extended their advantage after the break with a quite astonishing goal. Makalou alighted on the ball just inside the box, nutmegged Tobias Palacio and, with one swift body-swerve, side-stepped Dylan Gorosito and goalkeeper Jeremias Florentin before tapping into an empty net.

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Argentina’s Claudio Echeverri – who came on as a half-time substitute – thought he had reduced the deficit with a neat finish shortly after the hour, but he had strayed offside.

Makalou almost scored a spectacular second when his thunderous free-kick smashed off the underside of the crossbar. There were to be no further goals, however, as Mali comfortably saw out a mightily impressive victory.

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