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Morocco are the dark horses of Qatar

By Dylan Bettencourt

Morocco will head into the Qatar World Cup with the dark horse label as they attempt to make amends for their performance in 2018.

The North Africans left Russia four years ago with only a single point and a bleak looking future.

However this time around there is much more optimism in the Moroccan ranks, only losing two fixtures between October 2019 and June this year.

Morocco, ranked the second best African team in the world, went on an undefeated run for almost three years before losing to Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Manager Walid Regragui will be hoping his side can progress to the knockout stages for only the second time in their history.

The 47-year-old manager has not had much time to prepare his side, only taking the reins at the end of August this year.

However in order to do that Morocco will have to contest one of the tougher groups in Qatar.

First up for Morocco is a fixture against 2018 finalists Croatia before they face a tricky Belgium side – they end their group stage journey with another tough fixture against Canada.

While Morocco progressing may prove to be an upset should it happen – the likeliness of it becoming a reality leaves plenty room for optimism.

Morocco will hope their in-form fullbacks Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui and Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi can continue impressing in Qatar.

Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has always proved to be a reliable last line of defence, for both club and country and Morocco will need him to be in top form during the showpiece.

Morocco will also once again have Hakim Ziyech in the international mix after missing out for a couple years due to a fall out with the previous national team manager.

The Chelsea winger has not enjoyed a rewarding time since joining Chelsea but the silky winger’s left-foot is constantly a threat.

Regragui hailed the Netherlands-born attacker as a “fighter who gives everything for his adopted country”.

The quiet confidence of Morocco leaves many fans hopeful that for the first time since 1986, Morocco will play in a World Cup knockout fixture.

Image source: @DailyMail

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